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Friday, 25 January 2019
Over the past few of weeks you may have seen a number of different instances in which ‘sewage’ has hit the news. Easily the most publicised of these is the result of a long standing court case whereby Thames Water were facing hefty fines for the improper maintenance of their sewage network.
Back in August 2015, a number of maintenance faux pas caused a large pump station which handled the sewage from two villages to break down and flooded two streams which eventually fed into the River Evenlode and eventually the River Thames, this carried on for approximately 24 hours before they managed to get the pump station operational once again.
By this time damage had already been done and the waterways were severely contaminated with catastrophic effects on the British wildlife, the local population of Bullhead fish were the main victim and over 150 became the casualty of the toxic water.
Over a matter of weeks before the event a number of alarms and warnings were ignored or insufficiently investigated, upwards of 1,100 alarms pre-warned employees that something was amiss and highlighted just how avoidable this could have been, it was no longer an issue of human error and in fact a case of gross incompetence.
The incident has been earmarked by the Judge who oversaw the case as a ‘reckless failure’ and subsequently have been charged with a category three harm office – they have now been charged with a monumental fine of £2m (if you’d like to read more please see here).
However this is not the first occasion where water authorities have been charged with negligence and over the last few years the Environment agencies have issued millions of pounds worth of fines – all of which could have been avoided with appropriate maintenance.
Thames Water to pay out £80,000 fine for leak caused by a sewer pipe bursting after being lodged with tree roots, fats, oils and grease and flooding the local river - https://www.gov.uk/government/news/thames-water-to-pay-80000-after-sewer-blunder
In 2016 Yorkshire Water was charged with £1.1m after one of their pump stations broke down and they did not have sufficient backup pumps in place to handle the excess flow meaning over sewage was visible in the River Ouse over 200m from the plant - https://www.gov.uk/government/news/yorkshire-water-fined-11million-for-illegal-sewage-discharge
Just last year Northumbrian Water was charged with £33,600.00 for pollution of untreated effluent entering a Burn as a sewage pipe bypassed the treatment waters and directly discharged to the watercourse - https://www.gov.uk/government/news/water-company-fined-for-pollution-incidents
Severn Trent was fined with £480k back in 2015 when sewage leaked into a farmer’s field and pond killing a number of fish but this wasn’t without prior warnings from the EA! - https://www.gov.uk/government/news/repeated-raw-sewage-leaks-lead-to-one-of-the-largest-water-company-fines
This also easily relates back to the importance of regular maintenance of your private treatment plants/ pump station and these events show that the Environment Agency understandably do not take foul water pollution lightly!
Although these are obviously up-scaled version of events compared to what could have on your private plant but caution should always be taken and following the government guidelines (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/comply-with-septic-tank-and-sewage-treatment-plant-permits) is vital.
It is your responsibility as the owner/ responsible body to ensure that none of your systems leak raw sewage into any watercourse. This will of course apply further to people who are discharging untreated effluent from Septic Tanks into a watercourse which we can only imagine will be policed further as of the 1st January 2020 when the new regulations will be enforced.
So why not avoid the expense and stress of receiving an un-necessary fine and be pro-active – make sure your system is compliant and in line with both manufacturer and government regulations!
Just remember we are only every a phone call (01388 537030) or email (email@example.com) away!