How has this water firm been allowed to pollute Windermere AGAIN?

How has this water firm been allowed to pollute Windermere AGAIN?

United Utilities has dumped more human excrement into one of England’s most popular natural attractions, leading This Writer to ask: how has this water firm been allowed to pollute Windermere AGAIN?

Remember when celebrities gathered at Windermere to protest against the amount of “poo” going into it?

As you can tell from the clips – and as I wrote at the time, “United Utilities doesn’t really care. It’s happy giving £300 million to shareholders this year, while devoting just one-fifteenth as much to cleaning up its act. That’s the wrong way around, but it is the way chosen by the UK’s right-wing governments since 1989 – both Tory and Labour, who privatised our water and sewage services and kept them that way.”

Now we learn that millions of litres of raw sewage were dumped into Windermere in February. United Utilities says this was because of a “fault”.

According to the BBC,

A pumping station in Bowness-on-Windermere, in Cumbria, normally sends sewage to Windermere Wastewater Treatment Works.

But United Utilities documents, obtained by the BBC, show how a telecoms fault on the night of 28 February caused the main pumps to stop.

A separate set of emergency pumps then discharged untreated sewage into the middle of Windermere

This illegal pollution went on for 10 hours and was not reported to the Environment Agency until three hours after it had ended.

More than 10 million litres of sewage went into the lake, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, according to BBC calculations. United Utilities says those claims are unreliable but has provided no figures itself.

Insiders at the company told the BBC that the pollution could have been prevented if United Utilities had taken quick and appropriate action after being notified of the fault – which would have happened automatically, shortly after it occurred. The company’s official line is that it was not notified at all.

The insiders said if an out-of-hours team had been sent out, most of the pollution could have been prevented. Instead, an engineer was dispatched 10 hours later. In fairness, the pollution was stopped shortly afterwards.

This Writer wonders whether the fact the fault happened just before midnight had something to do with the delay, with the engineer being sent out shortly after the start of the following working day. Did the water company not want to pay overtime?

And now Windermere has been suffering from algal blooms, turning the water green and potentially toxic. The algae is caused by a build-up of phosphorus in the lake, partly caused by both treated and untreated sewage.

Water and sewage was privatised in the UK in 1989. The public – its former owner – was told this would mean cheaper bills and a complete restoration of the antiquated, Victorian pipe system. Neither of those things happened.

Instead, bills have increased, but have only been used to bloat the dividends of company shareholders. Here’s Labour’s Clive Lewis with the facts:

It seems to me that this is exactly what privatisation was intended to do.

I think stinking up Windermere, along with all the other rivers and waterways in the UK, was part of the plan.

I think the intention was to create an environmental catastrophe that would be prohibitively expensive to fix – while handing the money needed to prevent it over to fatcat bosses and shareholders.

I think it, because that is what has happened.

The question now is: how do we fix it?

The answer (with apologies to Clive Lewis) has to start with us refusing to support either Labour or Conservative candidates in the general election. Those parties are in the pockets of big business and will refuse to do what is needed.

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