Water companies & regulators

This page provides information for the Environment Agency, water companies and their contractors. The EA has a clear duty to address pollution and ensure compliance with EU directives.  Water companies as owners of much of the sewerage network have to ensure the assets they manage don't cause pollution.  The information here is not comprehensive and additional guidance can be obtained via representatives on the National Misconnections Strategy Group.

There is a range of free campaign and publicity material, featuring the national ConnectRight brand, which is available for anyone to use to help raise awareness about the misconnection problem.  

The National Guidance document 2009 for Investigation and rectification of drainage misconnections from Water UK and the Environment Agency is available here .

Please contact us via the enquiry form if you have information to share.

The Environment Agency has produced a number of Pollution Prevention Guides on the following activities.

PPG1 - an introduction to pollution prevention covers the 5 main activities to consider to help avoid pollution incidents and comply with the law. 

PPG 5 - works in, near or over water  provides advice on how to make sure your work protects the environment and meets legal requirements, including waste management.

PPG 3 - use and design of oil separators in surface water drainage systems helps you decide if you need an oil separator at your site and, if so, what size and type is appropriate. 

PPG 4 - treatment and disposal of sewage where no foul sewer is available; it helps you choose the correct option for sewage disposal and gives guidance about maintenance and your legal requirements.

PPG 13 - vehicle washing and cleaning  provide advice to help protect the environment when washing vehicles using automatic wash systems, high pressure or steam cleaners and washing by hand.

PPG 6 - working at construction and demolition sites has been developed in partnership with industry to help those working at construction and demolition sites to prevent pollution

Additional guidance about dealing with Concrete washwaters on construction sites.

Is your site right? a brief 10 point checklist

Go to this link for information about the transfer of private sewers into water company ownership.

The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership have developed a Planning Advice Note for Integrated Water Management.  The advice note provides a 'one stop shop' about water management and demonstrates the benefits of building it into plans and planning decisions.  It's comprehensive and essential reading for anyone involved in any aspect of planning bringing together flooding, biodiversity and water at a number of scales - catchment, district and individual building.

UK Technical Advisory Group is a partnership of the UK environment and conservation agencies created to provide coordinated advice on the the science and technical aspects of the EU Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC).  This Directive sets an enormous challenge in meeting the objectives to improve and protect the water environment and is the major driver for the sustainable management of water in the UK. The water environment includes all rivers, canals, lakes, estuaries, wetlands and coastal waters as well as water under the ground.

Fats oils and greases and ‘flushable’ products  cause real problems for our sewerage network and the environment. Find out more Fats Oils & Greases and non flushables  

UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR) was set up by 21 water and sewerage undertakers in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  It helps deliver a common research programme for the UK Water Industry.  Work is often carried out in collaboration with government departments and regulators including the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) and The Environment Agency, (EA).

The research programme
is currently divided into the following topics: drinking water quality and health; toxicology; water resources; climate change; wastewater treatment and sewerage; sewage sludge; water mains and services; sewerage; leakage and metering; customer and regulatory issues.

Defra, see link above, are the UK government department responsible for policy and regulations on environmental, food and rural issues.  Defra’s stated priorities are to grow the rural economy, improve the environment and safeguard animal and plant health.  The National Policy Statement sets out Government policy for the provision of major waste water infrastructure. 

Defra’s plans for future water management are set out in the white paper, Water for Life , published in 2011.

Defra also support Love Your River which is aiming to encourage local communities to take an interest in their local rivers and streams.

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management is an independent chartered professional body concerned with environmental management systems, resource protection, pollution control, public health, water and sanitation services, flood defence and land drainage.  It provides training and professional development opportunities, conferences, events, publications and works with many organisations promoting a holistic approach to environmental issues.

Ofwat.gov.uk (The Water Services Regulation Authority) is the economic regulator of the water and sewerage sectors in England and Wales.  It makes sure the companies provide household and business consumers with a good quality service and value for money.  It monitors and compares water company services, scrutinises costs and investment and encourages competition.  They work closely with a wide range of other stakeholders such as the Environment Agency, Drinking Water Inspectorate and the Consumer Council for Water

Serious flooding can happen at any time.  Climate projections suggest that extreme weather will happen more frequently in the future.  The Flood and Water Management Act will provide better, more comprehensive management of flood risk for people, homes and businesses.  It will also help safeguard community groups from unaffordable rises in surface water drainage charges and protect water supplies to the consumer.
Engineering Nature's Way, is a site full of useful resources for people working with Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) and flood risk management in the UK.  It provides opportunities to share news, opinion, information and best practice for developers, consulting engineers, contractors and people working in local and central government.
Natural England  (NE) is the government’s advisor on the natural environment.  It has a role to ensure sustainable stewardship of the land and sea so that people and nature can thrive, adapt and survive intact for future generations to enjoy.  Key responsibilities include managing the English green farming scheme, designating National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, managing national nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

The Water Guide is a handy site with information about the UK water industry and the companies operating within it – their background, contact details and services.  All this is displayed in an easy to read format, all within this one site.

There is also the Water Pollution Guide site, where you can find useful information about the sources of water pollution and how they can be treated.

Spill on line.org  is a website that gives information on how to react to an oil spill, what to do, and how to contact a UK qualified and accredited Spill Responder who complies with standards supported by the Environment Agency of England & Wales (EA), the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA)

susdrain.org is an exciting new community that provides a range of resources for those involved in delivering sustainable drainage systems (SuDS).  SuDS help manage flood risk and water quality and provide a range of amenity benefits that create great places to live, work and play.

The European Centre for River Restoration is a European network whose mission is to enhance and promote river restoration and sustainable river management throughout Europe, to disseminate information on river restoration experiences and approaches and to foster the establishment of national river restoration networks in as many European countries as possible.

Yellow Fish has taken place in many parts of the UK and in many countries around the world. It is an active, enjoyable and effective way of raising awareness of waste and water pollution, and helping make local environments cleaner and healthier places. It involves volunteers stenciling a Yellow Fish symbol beside drains as a reminder that any liquid waste entering these drains may go directly to the nearest stream or river, possibly causing pollution and killing wildlife. Read the yellow fish manual. 

Useful documents and further reading.

  • There is an interesting MORI/Ipsos report into public awareness and attitude about misconnections commissioned in 2009
  • This paper describes the approach adopted by Thames Water since 1997 to address diffuse pollution sources by identifying and rectifying domestic and commercial misconnections across the Thames region: A new management approach to the remediation of surface water outfalls  to improve river water quality.
  • This paper reports on a study conducted in North East London to identify gaps in customers’ knowledge with a view to raising awareness of the issues surrounding polluted surface water outfalls: Remediation of polluted surface water outfalls – customer communication and changes in behaviour. 
  • The Drainage Stratgey Framework is a good practice guide that sets out how to prepare a drainage strategy for a particular catchment.  It is aimed primarily at water and sewerage companies, environmental regulators and local authorities.  It is also of relevance to other partners, customers and stakeholders to help them understand how a water and sewerage company intends to deliver its statutory functions over the long term in a sustainable and economic manner.
  • Chemicals in Environment briefing note was originally produced for a national stakeholder workshop.  It sets out the current and potential future problems, solutions and approaches to addressing water quality impacts of chemicals as well as useful information about the chemicals of concern.
  • Defra's Tackling pollution from the urban environment  sets out the current problem, including what are considered the major sources of urban diffuse water pollution.  The document was originally written for a broader consultation, now closed, about a strategy to address diffuse water pollution from the built environment.