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Pollution Performance

We’re responsible for the safe transportation and storage of large quantities of wastewater and the chemicals needed to treat it. We're careful to prevent them from escaping our network and posing a risk to nature or wildlife.

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How are pollution incidents recorded?

To report a pollution, get in touch on 0330 303 0368 – together, we can protect and improve the environment.

We’re responsible for the safe transportation and storage of large quantities of wastewater along with the chemicals needed to treat it. We're careful to prevent them escaping our network and posing a risk to nature or wildlife.

Pollutions can happen for a variety of reasons – blockages in the sewer caused by wet wipes and fats, oil and grease (FOG) on our 40,000km network are the biggest cause. Equipment failure or an electrical fault at one of our sites or pumping stations can also cause pollution. When an event happens, we respond to stop the pollution and we report it to the Environment Agency (EA).

We publish our annual pollution figures here (last updated March 2022). The Environment Agency has not yet published the final performance data that we need to update this page, we will update as soon as we have the information, which is expected in April.

Our pollution performance

The Environment Agency records pollution incidents under three categories based on impact to the environment:

  • Category 1 incidents have a serious, extensive or persistent impact on the environment, people or property
  • Category 2 incidents have a lesser, yet significant, impact
  • Category 3 incidents have a minor minimal impact on the environment, people or property with only a limited or localised effect on water quality
  • Self-reported – where we report an incident to the Environment Agency before it's reported by a third party, it's also recorded as a 'self-reported incident'.

The graph below shows our performance for sewerage pollution in our region (West Sussex, East Sussex, Hampshire and Kent) by year, as recorded by the Environment Agency:

Number of reported pollution incidents

This graph shows our performance for sewerage pollution in Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight by year, as recorded by the Environment Agency.

Self-reported incidents

This graph shows the percentage of incidents that were self-reported.

Number of reported pollution incidents

This graph shows our performance for sewerage pollution in Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight by year, as recorded by the Environment Agency.

Self-reported incidents

This graph shows the percentage of incidents that were self-reported.

In 2022 we recorded a slight improvement in pollutions compared to 2021.

Our Pollution Incident Reduction Plan (PIRP) strategy has laid the foundations for a continued improvement in our performance, showing trends from all sources, including electrical and mechanical (MEICA), blockages and bursts, as well as pollutions from sewer blockages. As part of the strategy, we have installed 23,000 sewer level monitors to send water level data back to a powerful machine-learning tool, focusing on areas where blockages happen most frequently.

Our pollution reduction programme

Our pollution reduction programme will deliver a big step-change in how we work, prioritise and remedy issues on our sites. This includes focusing our attention and investment on areas which will deliver the biggest reduction in incidents.

We've made further changes to the Pollution Incident Reduction Plan (PIRP), which sets out how we'll aim to reduce the annual number of pollutions from 483 in 2022 to less than 130 by the end of 2024 and zero by 2040. The PIRP strategy has already laid the foundations for a continued steady improvement in our performance, informing future plans by showing the trends in pollutions from all sources, including electrical and mechanical (MEICA), blockages and bursts, as well as pollutions from sewer blockages.

Our 2023 Improvement Plans are focused on three main categories containing 18 separate initiatives delivering a benefit reduction of between 126–212 pollutions.

As part of our zero-tolerance approach to pollution, we've created a Clean Rivers and Seas Task Force to help us cut storm overflows by 80% by 2030.

You can help too. If you see something that you think might be pollution, get in touch on 0330 303 0368. Together, we can protect and improve the environment.

Drainage and wastewater management

Drainage and wastewater management is essential for a strong economy, a safe society and a healthy environment. We've developed Drainage and Wastewater Management Plans to plan for the future of drainage, wastewater and environmental water quality across our region.