Northumbrian Water issued £540,000 fine from EA for sewage pollution in watercourse

Management & Regulation, Waste & Resources

Just days before its chief executive officer is set to be quizzed by the EAC in a final evidence hearing for the Water Quality in Rivers inquiry, Northumberland Water has been hit with a £540,000 from the EA after pleading guilty to polluting a watercourse.

The water firm self-reported the incident to the EA – which saw effluent discharging into the watercourse that runs through Heads Hope Dene near Castle Eden.

Results from water samples collected by an EA agency officer during its investigation indicated raw sewage had entered the Dene.

Later surveys revealed that the ecology and habitat of the watercourse was damaged for 2km, with river sample results indicating a detrimental impact on water quality for 4km.

The court heard that on 22 May 2017, a blockage in a combined sewer caused sewage to pour out of a manhole cover and discharge into the watercourse that runs through Heads Hope Dene, which Northumbrian Water began to clear that day. There has also been additional remedial work to make improvements, while a longer term solution to re-route the sewer out of the Dene is underway.

Commenting, EA in the North East environment manager Rachael Caldwell said: "We take our responsibility to protect the environment very seriously. Water companies have a legal duty to avoid pollution and must act quickly to reduce any damage that happens as a result of their activities. The regulations are clear and are enforced robustly."

In addition to the fine, Northumbrian Water was ordered to pay costs of more than £142,000 and a £170 victim surcharge.

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