United Utilities hit with £666,000 fine for sewage discharge into river

United Utilities has been fined £666,000 and ordered to pay £32,000 in costs after pleading guilty to polluting a river with untreated sewage effluent in Greater Manchester.

The Environment Agency prosecuted the water company after sewage was released into the River Medlock killing fish and damaging water quality over a 4km stretch. United Utilities estimated that 21,700 cubic metres of sewage was discharged into the water.

The pollution was first reported, as United Utilities responded to an alarm at a sewage tank and found a fault that was slowing the tank’s emptying into the foul sewer network. That caused untreated raw sewage to enter the River Medlock. United Utilities admitted that it had received an alarm about the discharge three days before, but the fault had not been recognised. United Utilities told the court of the steps it had taken to prevent a reoccurrence of this incident.