Welsh Water 'disappointed' with pollution record

Welsh Water has come bottom of a performance league table of water companies, partly due to its pollution record.

The Environment Agency (EA) rated the company worst out of all 10 UK firms in 2009.

It said the company has been in eighth to 10th place for three years with only 96% permit compliance.

A Welsh Water spokesman said it was "disappointed", but the firm's record had improved in 2010.

The league table was included in the EA's Greener Business report which measures firms' performance against their obedience of permit conditions, pollution incidents and improvement schemes.

In 2009, Welsh Water recorded 318 category 3 incidents - those that have a localised or short-term impact on the environment.

There were also seven category 2, where there is a "significant but normally localised effect on water quality".

There were none of the highest category 1 incidents - where there is a persistent and/or extensive effect on water quality.

The EA said that although serious pollution incidents have fallen dramatically since 2004, less-serious incidents have remained static at around 2,200 per year.

These are mostly due to leaks from sewers or untreated waste water.

An Environment Agency spokesman said: "Clean water in our rivers, lakes and coastal waters is vital to the environment and economy in Wales.

"When there are issues in terms of pollution effecting our waterways, we will find those responsible and take action."

It said it was working closely with Welsh Water to improve performance and reduce any impact on the natural environment.

He added: "While there has been a reduction in the larger scale incidents in recent years, there are areas for improvement, specifically the smaller scale incidents which are not showing a downward trend."

Welsh Water said it was taking the results seriously but was "disappointed" by the results.

"We are committed to continuous environmental improvement and have made great strides over the past decade - particularly with investment for the benefit of Wales' coastal and river environments.

"We were therefore particularly disappointed by these results in 2009.

"2010 has seen an improvement in performance - with 20% fewer pollution incidents of this kind, which are caused by blockages and collapses along the 19,000km of sewer network we maintain and operate.

"Safeguarding Wales's rivers and coastline is a top priority for us and it is particularly pleasing that this week we have seen Wales receiving around a third of all Blue Flags awarded throughout the UK (41 beaches and 5 marinas in Wales) - which is a fantastic achievement for Wales overall."

In 2009, Wessex Water was top of the performance league table, followed by Yorkshire Water.

More on this story