Water providers will be making sure their performance is up to scratch after Southern Water was charged a huge £126 million for sewage treatment failures and misleading its customers.

An Ofwat investigation revealed the water company made a number of errors with regards to its wastewater treatment sites, including allowing spills to leak into the environment.

The findings also revealed Southern Water sabotaged the wastewater sampling process, which led to customers being misled about the performance of its sewage treatment sites.

As a result, it will have to pay a rebate of £126 million to customers – amounting to £61 each – as well as a fine of £3 million.

Chief executive of Ofwat Rachel Fletcher said: “The company was being run with scant regard for its responsibilities to society and the environment.”

She went on to say: “It was not just the poor operational performance, but the co-ordinated efforts to hide and deceive customers of the fact that are so troubling.”

This is the largest penalty Ofwat has ever administered, as it is proportionate to the size of the business.

Since the appointment of a new chief executive in January 2017, Southern Water has made many changes to its management team, and monitoring and reporting systems.

It has also invested in improving the treatment sites, and has encouraged change in the company’s culture for transparency instead of misreporting information.

This comes after Ofwat launched a consultation for water providers to meet transparency objectives, as well as governance and board leadership targets.

It stated this will “help strengthen water companies’ corporate behaviours”.

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