I WOULD like to respond to the letter from your reader, David Cowan of Orford: Letters: Important for water firms to own up about environmental damage (May, 30).

Mr Cowan clearly feels very strongly about the health of our region’s waterways and the essential service we provide.

It is a privilege for us to serve the communities of the north west and I can assure you that everyone at United Utilities cares passionately about the region in which we live and work - any incident which gives rise to pollution is one incident too many.

Occasionally things go wrong, which is what happened in February when the Windermere incident occurred. Our third party telecommunications provider made a change to their own systems and despite all assurances that this would have no impact on any of UU’s sites or systems, unfortunately it ended up impacting a number of sites across the north west, taking out both primary and UU’s own secondary back up communication links to our Warrington control centre.

We dispatched teams across the region to check on our sites, and when we discovered the fault had affected the Glebe Road pumping station at Windermere our engineers took urgent steps to resolve the situation and we informed the Environment Agency within an hour of the pollution being confirmed.

We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously, and if things do occasionally go wrong, we work hard to put it right. As you can imagine, we are carrying out a full investigation into what happened in February with our telecoms provider, to ensure any necessary improvements are implemented.

Unfortunately, when campaigning reporters tell their stories, they do not always report the full facts.

And when the full picture is complicated, there is often not enough time or space for us to give a full defence.

Water is a highly politicised topic currently, and there is little mention of the £200 billion invested in water and wastewater improvements since 1990, or the fact that 99.97 per cent of UK tap water quality tests meet the highest standards in the world. Nor will you read that each of Windermere’s four bathing waters meet the Excellent classification.

Of course, there is more to be done and United Utilities is proposing a further £13.7 billion investment over the next five years - to reduce storm overflows by 60 per cent, bringing better water services and cleaner rivers while supporting 30,000 jobs across the region, many of those here in Warrington.

You can find lots more information about our investment plans and current work to improve our environment here unitedutilities.com/better-rivers/.


Cumbria County Business Leader United Utilities