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Sophie Cameron

Features and Opinion Editor, Solicitors Journal

Ofwat publishes measure to penalise companies for storm overflow failings

Ofwat publishes measure to penalise companies for storm overflow failings


The regulator will assume the overflow has spilled 100 times per year

Ofwat, the Water Services Regulation Authority, published on 14 June the measure that will be used for penalising companies that do not properly monitor their storm overflows.

In light of the responses to its recent consultation held in May on ‘Updating the storm overflows performance commitment definition for the 2024 price review (PR24)’ and further analysis, the regulator will apply the rationale that where a storm overflow has not been monitored, or the monitor has not been functioning correctly, it will be assumed that the overflow has spilled 100 times a year. According to the regulator, this figure is around four times the current average and double what Ofwat consulted on, and as such should provide a strong incentive for companies to install and maintain their monitors correctly. 

In order to combat the problem of sewage being inappropriately discharged into the environment, all wastewater companies will have set targets for reducing the average number of spills from storm overflows?and companies will be penalised by Ofwat where they do not meet those targets. The storm overflows targets for each company will form part of Ofwat’s price review for 2025 to 2030. The new measures taken by the regulator aim to deliver on the UK government’s Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan and the Welsh Government’s Storm Overflows Action Plan.

Commenting on the development, Chris Walters, Senior Director, Price Review at Ofwat said: “Companies need to monitor their use of storm overflows and reduce their use. Companies must now take account of Ofwat’s decision when preparing their business plans for submission to Ofwat in October 2023. We will continue to use all the powers we have to drive companies to get to grips with this issue.”