A vision for our coasts and rivers
The water environment is at the heart of everything we say and everything we do as a business.

As a water and wastewater operator, we take water from the environment and treat it to the highest of standards to arrive at our customers’ taps clean, clear and great tasting, then we take away the wastewater and treat it to the highest of standards, before returning it back to the environment.


Our care and respect for our natural environment goes far beyond any regulatory requirements. We work constantly to protect and enhance coasts, rivers and watercourses in all areas of our operations.


In 2022, we set out our ambition for our coasts and rivers with new long-term commitments. The report below provides an update on our progress, background to the issues that may affect a river or beach’s water quality, and what we plan to do next.


You can also see our initial report on this page below.


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We are committed to nine ambitious pledges that we believe will be effective for our unique water environment and make a real difference to our communities.


We are proud of the level of environmental investment we committed to in the current five year investment period, which reflects our customers’ priorities as we understood them pre-covid, but we understand that times and expectations have changed. Our challenge now is to demonstrate how we can do even more to invest to protect and enhance our rivers.


  1. We will work with the Environment Agency, Natural England, The Rivers Trust and Catchment Partnerships to identify, and have plans in place to eliminate, all impediments to our rivers achieving good ecological status caused by our operations.
  2. We will invest in monitoring to provide 100% near Realtime Data on all Storm Overflows by 2023.
  3. We will introduce final effluent, in-river upstream and downstream monitoring to get a greater understanding of environmental impacts of treated water by 2030.
  4. We will implement Water Quality monitoring at the highest priority Storm Overflow locations by 2025.
  5. We will reduce spills from storm overflows to an average of 20 per year by 2025.
  6. We will work closely with The Rivers Trust through our strategic partnership and North East Catchments Hub to focus on river needs for investment through catchment and nature-based solutions, and to identify at least 2 inland bathing water sites where applications for designation can be made at the earliest opportunity. We are proud that already 95% of the NE population lives within an hour’s drive from a beach with Good or Excellent bathing waters.
  7. We will work with partners to achieve 100% of coastal bathing waters at Good or Excellent by 2030.
  8. We will work in partnership to improve 500km of bluespaces (such as river banks and accessible water environments) for the public to enjoy in our regions by 2030.
  9. We will double the number of our Water Rangers – our citizen scientist volunteers who are trained to help us monitor environmental conditions around rivers and take action to address wider river issues such as littering, fly tipping or signs of pollution.

Useful information