Paul Knocker, Bembridge:

Over the past few years we have seen the growing concern about the frequency of storm overflow incidents (untreated sewage discharges), causing serious long term environmental damage and contaminating our rivers and beaches. 

The news channels are now focused on the water companies new five year plans submitted to Ofwat, which seem likely to include increases in our bills of over 50 per cent…”to pay for the long delayed essential infrastructure investment to control storm overflows, stop leakage and secure water supply across the country”.

But, the 17 privatised water companies have had 34 years to make these investments to maintain an essential service, and the state had about 100 years before that! 

Ofwat was created as the “regulator” at the same time as the privatisation, under the The Water Industries Act. 

Its brief included:  “To protect the interests of consumers and secure the long-term resilience of water supply and waste water systems”. 

Then there is the issue of ownership. Over 70 per cent of the water companies in England are foreign owned, often with complex ownership structures, including private equity, which tends to load its portfolio with debt, and institutional investors, who like to ensure regular dividends from their infrastructure investments.

So, who should now be held to account for yet another example of a failure to invest in essential infrastructure projects on a timely basis? 

A question for David Black, CEO of Ofwat, or should it be Defra or even the UK Infrastructure Commission?