United Utilities to pay £37,294 for allowing muddy water to seep into Padiham brook.

United Utilities to pay £37,294 for allowing muddy water to seep into Padiham brook.

The company which supplies water across East Lancashire, was also ordered to pay £4,174.22 in costs and a £120 victim surcharge at a court at Burnley Magistrates Court, following a prosecution by the Environment Agency.

The court heard that on October 23, 2012, the agency investigated reports of a burst pipe leaking grey, muddy water into Green Brook near Molby Wood Lane in Padiham, a tributary of the River Calder.

The water was picking up large amounts of silt and sediment as it flowed through a reed bed, which was then entering the nearby brook, polluting both the brook and a stretch of the river.

Reports of pollution in the river were received from several miles downstream and samples taken by Environment Agency officers confirmed the source of the pollution.

However, there was a delay by UU in responding to the incident as they initially reported having no assets in the area, the court was told.

An Environment Agency search of United Utilities own maps identified that the pipe belonged to the company.

When the water supplier attended the site it confirmed there was a burst to a main but did not identify the discharge to the brook.

The company’s engineers shut down the main on October 25 last year and repaired the damaged pipe throughout that night.  Nick Walwin-Home, lead investigating officer for the Environment Agency, said “The discharge of a significant quantity of silted water caused discolouration and had the potential to cause harm to the animal and plant life in Green Brook and the River Calder.”

“Sediment deposited on the river bed blankets out light and oxygen to bed-living flora and fauna and buries fish eggs.”

“At the time of the incident it was the spawning season for salmon.  This case once again illustrates that the Environment Agency will not hesitate to take action where companies pollute the environment.”

United Utilities co-operated with the Environment Agency’s investigation and has carried out an internal review of its processes to try and minimise the possibility of a similar incident in the future.

Lanashire Telegraph 22nd September 2014