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Wed Jul 10, 2024, 08:52 AM Jul 10

As It Filled Rivers W. Shit, Thames Water Failed To Complete 108 Upgrades Paid For By Customers

Thames Water has failed to complete more than 100 upgrades to ageing sewage treatment works to meet legal pollution limits, the Guardian can reveal. The schemes costing £1.1bn were supposed to cut pollution into rivers by increasing the capacity at sewage works, adding phosphorus removal to the treatment process, and installing new storm tanks. The upgrades, which were promised in 2018, are being paid for by customers as part of a five-year spending round to 2025 but will not be delivered within that timeframe.

Meanwhile, Thames Water awaits a crucial decision on Thursday from the regulator Ofwat on the company’s new five-year business plan. Thames wants to increase customer bills 59% by 2030 to pay for record investment of £19.8bn to tackle sewage pollution, leaks and water shortages after decades in which the company has sweated assets and underinvested. The company is asking the regulator to allow the late projects to be rolled over into the new spending round, known as PR24.

Ash Smith, the founder of the campaign group Windrush Against Sewage Pollution, said customers had already paid for the projects to upgrade ageing sewage treatment works, and were being asked to pay again. “Thames Water failed to deliver around 108 schemes that were funded in the last spending cycle and we question whether that a deliberate act to keep it financially afloat. A proper investigation into this company is long, long overdue.” Smith added: “It has broken our sewerage infrastructure while extracting cash, right under the noses of regulators and the government.”

Industrywide, water companies are seeking to increase customer bills by up to 91% to pay record investment of £96bn. The new environment secretary, Steve Reed, has summoned water company chiefs to a meeting on Thursday after the Ofwat decision on the PR24 business plans. As well as bill increases, Thames wants the regulator to agree to issue it with lower fines for pollution. Thames also wants Ofwat to increase a 3% limit on capital returns in order to attract vital investment as the company struggles to stay afloat with debts of more than £15bn. Thames has said average annual customer bills would be £608 by 2030.



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