Hurting the environment comes with a price. £126 million, to be exact

Southern Water, a water company operating in Britain, will have to pay a record £126 million penalty over breaching its statutory duties regarding sewage treatment.  The company deliberately misreported its data and dumped untreated waste into beaches, rivers and streams.

A two years investigation by Ofwat found that the company manipulated the water samples for seven years in order to hide their failures. On top of that, the company didn’t make an adequate investment in equipment, which resulted in unsatisfactory treatment process to the sewage and spillage of wastewater.

As a result to this discovery, Southern Water might also face criminal charges, as the Environment Agency launched a criminal investigation.

Southern Water will refund £123 million to customers through their bills over five years, and pay a fine of £3 million. It’s important to add that the penalty would have been larger if the water firm had not co-operated with the investigation and addressed its failings.

Southern Water Chief Executive Ian McAulay responded to the matter by saying he and the company “We are deeply sorry for what has happened. There are no excuses for the failings that occurred between 2010 and 2017 outlined in Ofwat’s report. We have clearly fallen far short of the expectations and trust placed in us by our wastewater customers and the wider communities we serve.

Time will tell if Southern water learned their lesson, but no doubt the huge penalty will make them, and other companies, to think twice before acting in a way that jeopardized the environment. As Rachel Fletcher, Ofwat Chief Executive said, “Today’s announcement should also serve as a reminder to all other companies about the gravity of their responsibilities to society and the environment and that we will take action if they neglect them.”

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