Wonderful on Tap

a duck and her ducklings
Protecting water

Protecting our wonderful water

Storm Overflows

Although storm overflows play a vital role in protecting our customers from experiencing flooding, we fully understand the concern around them, and the impact on our rivers. 

In an ideal world, they wouldn’t exist, but they make up part of the sewer network that was created dating back to the Victorian era, so it’s important that we understand them, and do what we can to reduce their impact. We look after over 90,000km of pipes 2,954 storm overflows, so replacing such an extensive system would be very costly and disruptive for our customers. However we know it's important we do as much as we can, which is why investing in projects that.reduce the impact of storm overflows and create improved and sustinable solutions to replace them.

Why we use them

They’re used during periods of intense or prolonged rainfall, as storm water can overwhelm sewers. The overflows allow the excess water, to spill into a watercourse and so prevents it backing up and flooding homes, businesses, roads or other open spaces, which can be a terrible experience for anyone.

Although the majority of these spills are rainwater - which are all allowed and permitted and regulated by the Environment Agency - we’re absolutely committed in doing what we can to minimise what impact they may have.

To do this, we are:

  • Investing £200m on top of the £355m already invested to reduce the impact from storm overflows.
  • Working on nature based solutions to keep more storm water out of our sewers, such as the creation of urban wetlands and green basins that will allow water to drain away naturally. 
  • Working with over 9,000 farmers to stop chemicals from pesticides from entering our water sources (a main cause of river pollution).
  • Continue with our huge sewer blockage and community education outreach programme to prevent sewer misuse.
  • Installing thousands of sewer sensors to alert any issues, that may impact overflows.
  • We’re increasing sewer capacity and storage to slow the flow of water during heavy rains, so overflows are less likely to be triggered.
  • We will be installing more monitors and screens where possible across the network.
  • We will be reviewing all of our storm overflows at our treatment works, to make sure they’re operating as they should.

Supporting biodiversity at our reservoirs

We're committed to maintaining and protecting the status of SSSI* land in our region.

We have 21 rangers who take care and run our many visitor sites. Our rangers work with both volunteers and organisations like the RSPB and Wildlife Trust
to protect and nurture the wildlife that make their homes at our beautiful reservoirs and woodlands.

Our visitor sites provide not only provide us with the opportunity to engage with customers about the wonderful water we provide, they also allow us to give back
to the environment by enhancing and protecting important and rare wildlife species such as butterflies, water voles and tree sparrows.

*Sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) are protected by law to conserve their wildlife or geology.