But what does this matter to Southern Water, Not much I venture. Last year Southern Water made £331million profits. That’s almost £1million per day! So a fine of £200,000 is hardly a deterrent.Out of the 23 water companies operating in England and Wales, OFWAT, the water industry regulator, has rated Southern Water the worst company for serious pollution incidents. Southern Water is also the worst water company in the country for discharging more sewage into our waterways and sea than is allowed for in their permits with the Environment Agency.
Last year when I was part of the Council Scrutiny Investigation into Southern Water I was contacted by several company employees who told me all about new staff rostering and call out arrangements and large cuts in wages and pensions which had wreaked havoc with routine maintenance and emergency cover and destroyed the morale of staff working in a dirty and often dangerous job 24/7. They also told me about how some spillage and pollution incidents were covered up and not reported by bosses. In fact one of the reasons for imposing the £200,000 on Southern Water appears to have been its reluctance to fes-up when it dumped raw sewage in the sea.Well I don’t know about you, but I think Southern Water has a responsibility to spend a big wedge of its £331 million super-profits on investing in new infra-structure and decent conditions for its staff, in order to stop pollution incidents such as those in Thanet which have damaged the reputation of our beaches and caused serious economic loss to local business. This will become even more important when the new European Bathing Water Quality directives are introduced in 2015 which have even tougher standards than now.
The Green Party believes that our water services are so important to the health of the nation that they should not be managed by private companies who are motivated by profit, but should be brought back under public ownership.