The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Thursday, 21 November

Poor Maintenance & Reporting Lead To £126 Million Penalty

Southern Water has invested in IT including systems for field based engineers

Southern Water has agreed to pay £126 million in penalties and payments to customers after dreadful maintenance led to sewage treatment failures.

A criminal investigation is also likely to go head as the company also stands accused of doctoring documents to hide the truth scale and seriousness of those failings.

In the course of a large-scale investigation into the water company, Ofwat found that Southern Water failed to operate a number of wastewater treatments works properly, including by not making the necessary investment which led to equipment failures and spills of wastewater into the environment.

 

Misreporting

Ofwat also found that Southern Water manipulated its wastewater sampling process which resulted in it misreporting information about the performance of a number of sewage treatment sites. to avoided penalties.

 

Penalties

The £126 million package will see Southern Water pay a rebate of £123 million to customers through their bills and pay a fine of £3 million. The rebate includes £91 million in penalties Southern Water had avoided and a further £32 million of payments as recognition of the seriousness of the failures. Proportionate to the size of the business, this package of penalties and payments is the biggest Ofwat has ever imposed - and would have been larger had Southern Water not co-operated with the investigation.

 

New head

Southern Water appointed a new Chief Executive in January 2017 and there have been substantial changes to the company’s management team since. Southern Water has introduced and committed to new governance arrangements to support accurate monitoring and reporting and a programme to change the company’s culture, which enabled these failings. Investment has also been made into the failing treatment sites and work will continue to improve them.

Ofwat Chief Executive, Rachel Fletcher, said: “What we found in this case is shocking. In all, it shows the company was being run with scant regard for its responsibilities to society and the environment. It was not just the poor operational performance but the co-ordinated efforts to hide and deceive customers of the fact that are so troubling.

“The penalties should serve as a reminder to all other companies about the gravity of their responsibilities to society and the environment.”

 

Response

Southern Water's relatively new CEO, Ian McAulay, said: "In 2017, I was brought in to drive change and transformation. We are deeply sorry for what has happened. There are no excuses for the failings that occurred between 2010 and 2017. We have made a number of fundamental improvements which have been recognised in the Ofwat report, including:

  • "A restructure of the Executive Team and Board.

  • "The appointment of a new Director of Risk and Compliance to challenge front-line teams.

  • "Strengthened whistle-blowing policies and appointment of an independent adjudicator so that any colleague with concerns feels confident that they will be listened to.

  • "Enhanced compliance across all wastewater treatment works including compulsory compliance and Code of Ethics training for all relevant colleagues.

  • "Invested more than £100 million in IT systems and processes and £26 million in upgrading and maintaining assets."

Picture: Southern Water has invested in IT including systems for field based engineers.

Article written by Brian Shillibeer

Share



Related Articles

Sort The Confusion - Falling Recycling Rates Blamed On Lack Of Understanding

Waste giant Biffa has called for UK recycling confusion to be sorted, saying that inconsistency and confusion in labelling, sorting and collections are preventing UK...

 Read Full Article
Not So Deee-Liteful - Biffa Bashed For Grubby Waste Deal

Waste giant Biffa has been found guilty of exporting banned waste to China in containers labelled as waste paper but containing used nappies, sanitary towels, shoes and...

 Read Full Article
Waste Companies Maim And Kill

A company in the recycling sector has been fined over a manual handling of loads issue and two other firms in the same business have been fined for separate...

 Read Full Article
Places For People Places People In Danger

A property management and development organisation has been fined after a number of employees developed Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome. Aylesbury Crown Court heard that...

 Read Full Article
HSE Injury And Ill-Health Statistics Released

October 30 saw the HSE releases the annual injury and ill-health statistics for Great Britain showing that 28.2 million working days were lost due to work-related illness...

 Read Full Article
Hotel All At Sea Over Asbestos

Two companies have been fined. RJW Building Solutions, a contractor carrying out refurbishment work at the Sea Hotel in South Shields and Hotel 52, the client, were...

 Read Full Article
Leak And Ladder Lead To Bad Mix At Chemical Co

An employee inspecting a steam leak at height fell to the ground when the ladder he was on failed. The employee of Vertellus Specialties UK fell two metres and suffered a...

 Read Full Article
Lending A Hand Costs Security Guard His Fingers

A security guard has lost his fingers after being asked by a groundworks contractor to lend a hand to do a job he was not employed or skilled to do. Elsewhere, seven...

 Read Full Article
The Issue Of Paper Straws Dogs McDonalds' Enviro Rep

Paper straws in workplaces and restaurants are as unrecyclable as their plastic forerunners. McDonalds' environmental reputation has been sullied by not telling their...

 Read Full Article
Well Blow Me Down - Director Fined For Being Blown Off Roof

A director of a construction has seen his company (along with two others) fined when he was blown off an unsafe roof.  The three firms, Bowmer and Kirkland,...

 Read Full Article