£50m In Fines For Thames Water In 2020
Utility company Thames Water has said that it received £51.9 million in penalties in 2020 and only £3.27 million in rewards under Ofwat-agreed criteria, performing poorly as a result of flooded sewers and customer experiences.
According to the Independent, an update sent out to shareholders also revealed that, although Thames Water has set targets in place for the five years leading up to 2025, it has fallen behind on hitting them.
The statement read: “Through the business planning process, we were set very challenging targets for some of our performance commitments and we put plans together to make headway towards our goals. However, we’re behind where we planned to be at the end of year one and we know that’s unacceptable.”
Commenting on the news, Sarah Bentley – chief executive – observed that the supplier’s priorities became clear as the pandemic situation deepened, focusing on keeping the taps running and supporting customers as much as it could.
Despite this, however, the company’s broader business performance regarding a number of its key commitments is unacceptable, she continued, adding that the supplier is now “behind expectations”, which is resulting in a rise in customer complaints.
Ms Bentley went on to say that Thames Water is now determined to learn from the mistakes that have been made in the past, delivering improvements in the future.
Most recently, Thames Water was fined £4 million after around 79 million litres of raw untreated sewage leaked from a treatment works in Surbiton during Storm Imogen in 2016.
The storm itself took place in February of that year, with the UK badly battered by winds of nearly 100mph and waves as high as 19.1 metres. The treatment plant was unable to cope with the amount of sewage produced and, although dozens of high-priority alarms were sounded, they were either all missed or ignored.
This then resulted in serious damage being done to the Hogsmill River in New Malden, as well as woodland and a local park.
In March this year, Thames Water also hit the headlines for a similar incident involving faulty equipment at a sewage treatment plant, an incident that saw it fined £2.3 million. In this instance, a stream was polluted with sewage and 1,444 fish and other water life killed, as a result.
To help it meet its commitments to keep waterways clean and healthy, Thames Water has just made changes to its telephone and online channels to fast-track customer reports of pollution incidents, reducing the amount of time it takes to investigate these as they happen.
Once an incident has been reported, a rapid response team will be sent out to the scene within two hours, so that swift and immediate action can be taken. Since hte upgrades were rolled out in June, the amount of time taken to respond has been reduced in many cases to under 60 minutes.