The Environment Agency's 'Spotlight on Environmental Performance 2002' published

today, has revealed a disturbing increase in pollution incidents by South West

Water - a fact that does not surprise Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) in the least.

Over the last couple of weeks Surfers Against Sewage have highlighted poor

coastal water quality in the region. A pumps failure in St Agnes has led to

raw sewage flowing onto the beach at Trevaunance Cove and lifeguards placing

warning signs against bathing; sewage related debris has been collecting at

Chapel Porth beach indicating a sewage wastewater treatment works failure in

the area and 16 people contacted SAS believing they had becoming ill from surfing

in polluted water at Gwithian.

Whilst the area has benefited from several new wastewater treatment works operating

with full sewage treatment systems it seems not all is well with the operation

of some of South West Water's works.

The EA report reflects SASs' concerns. South West Water is the worst ranking

water company by population size for its environmental performance, with a doubling

of pollution incidents over the last year. They are also ranked as the least

compliant of water companies with regard to compliance with consents to discharge.

These consents are issued by the Environment Agency to ensure the environment

is properly protected against pollution incidents.

The Environment Agency must be commended for this report and for the warning

they have issued indicating that higher fines and more prosecutions are failing

to stop multi million pound businesses from committing environmental crimes.

South West Water's fines for 2002 are a meagre £46,000 - and as the Environment

Agency's Chief Executive says, "these fines are small change for big business".

Richard Hardy, Campaigns Assistant for SAS says: "South West Water's accumulated

fines of £46,000 pounds would hardly make a dent in Company profits! The

polluter pays principal needs to be re-addressed to ensure water companies truly

pay for environmental crimes.

With water bills at their highest in the SW region water users will be dismayed

at the company's poor performance. Yet things may yet get worse as much needed

environmental improvements may be dropped out of water companies environmental

programmes during the next Periodic Review despite public surveys revealing

we are prepared to pay a bit more if the environment benefits".

For more information please contact Richard Hardy or Vicky Garner on Tel: 01872