Follow the money..
Finally, our Government responded to the Report into River Pollution conducted by the Environmental Audit Committee, a respected cross-party team of MPs and advisors established to take a detailed and unbiased look into serious issues.
The Committee identified the causes of river pollution as underinvestment and multiple failures in monitoring, governance and enforcement.
This was a very serious piece of work to which WASP contributed last year and we expected the government to fix those failures and make sure they can't happen again.
Instead, it has just trumpeted some exaggerated and meaningless expectations and overhyped some tinkering with a problem that has left water industry 'investors' £72 Billion better off but left our battered environment looking like this.
Where it used to look like this
Windrush back in May 1998 - Who would now believe it could have been like this were it not for Paul Woodley's video, taken for Newland Angling Club?
Back to the Government's disgraceful response. Let's just look at what could have been one big improvement but won't be.
The report recommended installing meters to measure the volume of untreated sewage dumped by the water companies. No! said the Government -
'Measurement of volume is limited by technical feasibility and cost, and therefore requires
further consideration of how it could be implemented effectively. '
What rubbish - volume meters are part of the much-hyped and long overdue Environment Agency 'flow to full treatment' investigation spurred on by WASP's Prof Peter Hammond's revelations. They are used in many sewage works and at Mogden in London, the meters showed that 3.5 billion litres of untreated sewage were dumped in 2020.
If you have a water meter you will also know that you have a volume monitor at your home to charge you for your water.
The reason these meters are so scary for the government and some water companies may be that they will show just how much sewage is dumped and expose water companies that could now spill for fewer hours but still dump a greater volume in that period - an obvious trick, really.
That will also embarrass a government that is actually doing little if anything to help the water companies that want to improve but is still fixing the regulation game to the advantage of the cheats and those prepared to break the law and to the disadvantage of the companies that want to come clean.
Almost all of the excuses used to justify weakened protection from the Environment Act and the perpetuation of pollution for profit revolved around saving the customer and taxpayer money but this was an illusion that hid the real truth - the billpayer already paid to do the job properly, not just allow the industry to suck out cash by cutting corners, dumping sewage and underinvesting in essential infrastructure.
Those excuses are about to come into sharp focus and perspective.
WASP is now looking at where the so-called investment went over the past 33 years. The results of our first enquiries with Ofwat were the basis of the Financial Times article that revealed that the water industry has extracted £72 BILLION in dividend payments while short changing the country on infrastructure.
As Prof Peter Hammond continues to reveal failure after failure by the regulators, we are also looking into who actually paid for what and what was actually bought with some eye-watering sums of money that are claimed as 'investment'. It appears that the financial regulator does not know (seriously) and is falling back on decidedly shaky data provided by the notoriously inaccurate and ill-informed Environment Agency.
It appears that the public has been monumentally misled about the benefits of the privatisation of the water industry but that may be about to change. WASP is working with other groups and very talented and knowledgeable people looking in the same direction.
Campaigning group, Wild Justice has started work with Environmental Lawyers, Leigh Day, to look at the performance of Ofwat under the law. Previously focused on wildlife crime, WJ brings valuable legal challenge expertise to the water pollution fight.
..and the House of Lords has launched an inquiry into the Regulator. That came out of the blue and we can only speculate on what inspired this potentially massive development. Will this be somewhere that whistleblowers feel safe to speak?
If you already thought that this is a murky business, unless there is a big shift in the nature of the evidence that WASP has accessed, we have the feeling that most people will be truly shocked by what is coming next.