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Extra investment programme to be funded from efficiency savings

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South West Water today (Thursday 23 May) announced an extra investment programme to protect bathing water quality at key tourist beaches, maintain nearly six million metres of sewers and help customers in the most need.

This investment will be funded from efficiency savings in the company's current five year programme and will not impact on  average household bills which will fall in 2013/14 following the Government's £50 reduction implemented in April.

Highlights of the programme include:

  • Bringing forward £20 million of Improvement to sewers and treatment works at Mothecombe, Looe, Combe Martin, Teignmouth, Looe, Lyme Regis and Torbay which will help local beaches keep their safe to swim status under the European Union's Revised Bathing Water Directive in 2015
  • £10 million more being pumped into customer debt and assistance programmes for those in the most need
  • £30 million of investment to maintain nearly 5,745 kilometres of pipe the company has been responsible for since the national transfer of private sewers in October 2011

Chief Executive Chris Loughlin said: "Last year saw everything from near drought conditions to the wettest summer and winter for 100 years. Yet, we kept on improving services while hitting our targets on leakage, tap water quality, complaints and reducing costs.

"Now is the right time to go further and share the benefits of our good financial performance with our customers by investing more where it is most needed. Investing now in our network and treatment works protecting bathing water quality will help minimise the risk of these vital beaches losing their status and serious knock-on damage to the region's number one industry - tourism.

"We can't solve every issue on our own affecting bathing water quality such as agricultural run-off and animal fouling but we want to do our utmost to make sure our sewerage network and treatment works operate in the most environmentally-friendly way possible.

"That's why we are also spending more now on the nearly six million metres of private sewers we took over last year which increased our total network by more than a third.

"We already have a range of industry-leading customer assistance programme and this year we will be introducing WaterCare, our new social tariff, which will discount bills for around 10,000 customers on the lowest incomes."

Full year results for Pennon Group published today (Thursday 23 May) also show South West Water spent nearly £320,000 per day - £116.5 million in 2012/13 - on improving customer services and protecting the regional environment.

Overall Pennon Group has recorded a 0.6% decrease in profits before tax to £199.2 million while South West Water's profits before tax increased by 7.5% to £152.1 million.

Notes for editors

  • Together with the Environment Agency and Defra, South West Water has identified a number of bathing waters at risk of losing their status from 2015 under the EU's Revised Bathing Water Directive. Factors affecting bathing water quality include overflows from the sewerage network, private outflow pipe, agricultural run-off into streams, animal fouling and wrongly-connected domestic and industrial appliances sending waste water into drains rather than public sewers
  • South West Water adopted nearly 6,000 kilometres of private sewers as part of the national transfer in October 2011. The transfer lessens the financial burden on private owners for collapses and repairs and also enables better environmental control of the network however maintenance costs for the extra sewers was not covered in the 2010 to 2015 pricing agreement for water companies.
  • The company has an industry-leading range of affordability measures in place for customers in the most need including its new WaterCare tariff which discount bills for those on a low income and qualifying benefits
  • Around 4,000 jobs in the wider regional economy are supported by South West Water's annual investment programme. The company itself will be recruiting another 20 young apprentices in 2013/14

Published: 23 May 2013

For further information please contact:

Press Office
South West Water

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