Water is a resource everyone needs – so we can’t avoid using water companies. By comparing the eco credentials of suppliers we can see how they’re performing when it comes to reducing water pollution and tackling climate change. Southern Water cover the south coast counties of Kent, Sussex Hampshire and the Isle of Wight – serving over two million customers, while Yorkshire Water supply 1.7 million households across the northern county.
Regulation obliges water companies to provide safe, drinkable water. Our water comes from reservoirs, groundwater or rivers, and once we’ve used it returns to rivers and the sea via drainage systems – and has the potential to cause pollution. Water companies also work to keep drains clear and reduce the risk of flooding from sewers.
More about Southern Water
Customers of Southern Water are supplied 71% from boreholes and aquifers and 29% from rivers. This water is carried to consumers through a network of around 104 water supply works, 94 service reservoirs and 13,394 km of water mains. There are 390 treatment works processing waste water and sewage before returning it to watercourses.
More about Yorkshire Water
Yorkshire Water sources 78% of its water supply from rivers and reservoirs with 22% coming from boreholes and aquifers. They work with a network of 116 water treatment works and 30,000km of water mains. Every day a billion litres of waste water and sewage are treated daily by 612 waste water treatment works.
What about eco credentials?
Both companies state they’re committed to tackling future water supply challenges presented by climate change and changing rainfall patterns. Yorkshire Water have their Blueprint for Yorkshire, a 25 year strategic plan, alongside a climate change strategy published in 2013, setting ways forward for reducing energy consumption and emissions across their operations.
Southern Water set themselves environmental targets in part 4 of their 2013 Strategic Direction Statement. They acknowledge the company needs to improve performance on river and coastal pollution – pledging to ensure all beaches in the region achieve Blue Flag status in the next 25 years.
The company are proactive in cutting carbon emissions –having already installed combined heat and power plant at treatment works, using methane generated from sewage treatment.
Environmental Performance data
The Environment Agency (EA) oversee environmental regulation for the water industry, publishing environmental performance assessment data. The companies also publish their data for greenhouse gas emissions.
Environmental Performance 2014 – Southern Water vs Yorkshire Water
|Company||Greenhouse gas emissions||Pollution incidents||Serious pollution incidents||Discharge permit compliance||Satisfactory sludge disposal||Environment Agency rating|
Southern Water is making significant progress in tackling greenhouse gas emissions with its commitment to renewable generation. They have, however, caused a high number of pollution incidents. Despite pledges to improve coastal and river water quality they only achieved a two star rating form the EA.
Yorkshire Water have a much better track record than their southern counterparts in keeping local water courses clean – achieving four stars from the EA. In summary, Southern Water have a poor recent record on water pollution but are making progress with carbon emissions. Both companies have strategies in place to improve environmental performance and pledge to improve their eco standing.