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  • Writer's pictureSimon Warnford-Davis

Combatting the call for water and sewage companies to reduce their pollution.

Updated: Aug 24, 2022

The sewage overflow scandal that has led to a wave of serious pollution incidents across the UK is now hotting up and legislation to tackle the growing problem is afoot with the aim of creating significant steps forward in the push to improve water quality across the UK. The moves come as the government continues to face fierce criticism over its response to the wave of sewage pollution incidents that have afflicted the country in recent years.

Recently the Environment Agency published a damning annual report detailing how many of the UK's water companies had made scant progress in tackling sewage overspills, calling on the courts to impose much higher fines and consider custodial sentences for executives responsible for illegal levels of pollution.

The Agency is calling for:

· Courts to impose much higher fines for serious and deliberate pollution incidents.

· Prison sentences for Chief Executives and Board members whose companies are responsible for the most serious incidents and company directors struck off after illegal environmental damage.

The report shows that overall, in 2021, the environmental performance of the companies fell to the lowest level the Agency has seen under the Environmental Performance Assessment (EPA). Despite continuing enforcement action against those breaching environmental laws the sector’s performance on pollution was much worse than previous years.

As a result, The Environment Agency are looking target water companies to make it too painful for them to continue like this. The amount a company can be fined for environmental crimes is unlimited, but fines currently handed down by the courts are often low and there is a call for the courts to impose much higher fines. However, it seems in this respect this month that things are already changing. A major water company has just been fined £1.6m for repeatedly polluting a waterway with sewage in the north of the country.

Defra has also joined in the call for action so that the water companies don’t ignore their legal responsibilities about polluting UK waterways, and it has been commented that they will not tolerate the ongoing pollution that they will take robust action if they don’t see urgent improvements. This month it has been announced Defra confirms new legal duty to be placed on water companies to reduce nutrient pollution by 2030, as it looks to ease planning barriers for new housing projects.

Earlier this year the Government consulted on a comprehensive plan to tackle the adverse impact of discharges from storm overflows and set out the expectation that water companies must take steps to significantly reduce storm overflows. Since 2015 the Environment Agency’s prosecutions against water companies have secured fines of over £138 million. In 2021 the Environment Agency concluded seven prosecutions against water and sewerage companies with fines of £90 million, two of £4 million, £2.3 million, £1.5 million, £150,000, and £540,000. Five prosecutions have already concluded in 2022 with fines of £300,000, £240,000, £233,000, £50,000, and £18,000, and more prosecutions are progressing in court.

Water companies not only have an environmental responsibly to improve the situation but need to improve their water overflow and discharge monitoring to avoid what will undoubtably be a steep increase in prosecutions and fines.

iDefigo through their AI enabled smart cameras and platform provide remote visual verification and alerts and monitor overflows and other assets, in turn reducing the potential public health risk to avoid environmental issues and fines as well as the environmental impact and cost of travelling to remote sites to check status through visual verification.

The smart cameras combine the latest innovations in low power surveillance cameras, solar technologies, IoT communications, cloud services and advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Computer Vision services. For the first time, the iDefigo solution enables the cost effective capture of visual intelligence at any location – no matter how remote.

The cameras intelligently detect relevant events, and the footage is instantly transmitted over the IoT network to the secure iDefigo Control Centre’s cloud-based platform which uses Ai technology to create proprietary algorithms, raise visual alarms and automate manual processes, detects and reports events and raise conditional alerts. This solution is ideal for water companies having to improve their monitoring, reporting and comply to recent legislation on the reporting of leaks and overflows and subsequent actions required to reduce or stop these polluting overflows.

iDefigo Key benefits:

· Reporting on start and end times of spills

· Publish data within an hour of the start of discharge

· Mobile network transmission of live data

· Agile - Easy to deploy and redeploy even in the most remote locations

· Battery / Solar Powered - Eyes on, without wires

· Green - High-quality but low-power camera, saving on physical visits to sites

· Secure - End to end, enterprise grade and easy to access on multiple devices and review footage

· GDPR compliant

iDefigo supplies smart surveillance cameras and its industry leading AI enabled platform. The benefits are rapidly installed, live instant surveillance with no cables and the associated costs, flexibility to move the cameras within minutes, live feed of images to a dashboard and AI technology to alert events of concern instantly through real time notifications and simple and easy footage through its AI enabled cloud-based platform and dashboard reviewing ‘Eyes On’ triggers. Powered by Vodafone these cameras can literally be sited anywhere.


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