South West Water

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South West Water is a UK company that supplies water in Devon and Cornwall and parts of Dorset and Somerset. It came into being in 1989 with the privatisation of the water industry.[1]

South West Water is a subsidiary of the Pennon Group, which "operates and invests in water and sewerage services, waste management and renewable energy".[2]


Pollution record

South West Water has repeatedly been named as one of the major polluters of rivers. According to an article in The Sunday Times in October 2009:

Water companies have been prosecuted 342 times in the past five years. The worst offender was South West Water which was prosecuted for 42 pollution offences.[3]

Fines for polluting rivers are small. According to the Environment Agency, the average fine for each breach was just £4,411. This is a tiny fraction of water companies' profits.

High prices

South West Water customers pay the highest water charges in the UK and the company has come under much criticism from consumer and other bodies for this. In July 2009 industry regulator Ofwat announced plans to compel the company to lower bills in the region by 6 per cent – the exact opposite of proposals outlined in the firm's business plan to put up prices by the same amount.[4]

The company blames the high prices on the area's long coastline (so there are many beaches to keep clean) and low population.[5] But the high prices may also have something to do with the fact that South West Water has a monopoly on water supply in most of the West Country, so consumers have no choice.

Lobbying firms


  1. About Us, South West Water website, accessed 25 October 2009
  2. Welcome to Pennon Group plc, Pennon Group website, accessed Oct 25 2009
  3. Fines fail to stop river polluters, Sunday Times, 18 October 2009, accessed 25 Oct 2009
  4. South West Water ordered to cut bills,, 24 July 2009, accessed 25 Oct 2009
  5. South West Water ordered to cut bills,, 24 July 2009, accessed 25 Oct 2009
  6. Register 1st September 2014 - 30th November 2014 APPC, accessed 29 January 2015