Yorkshire Water chief executive apologises for sewage failures
Last updated May 17, 2023
Nicola Shaw and sewage in the River Nidd

The chief executive of Yorkshire Water has apologised today for its record on sewage and said she will refuse any bonus this year.

Nicola Shaw admitted the company has not done enough to tackle storm overflows, which release raw sewage into rivers at times of high rainfall.

Yorkshire Water has been widely criticised for its record on storm overflows and was fined £233,000 in January for discharging 20 million litres of raw sewage into Tong Beck at Bradford.

Ms Shaw joined the company in May last year and has yet to receive an annual bonus. Her predecessor Liz Barber’s last bonus was £679,000 in the 2021/22 financial year.

In a letter to customers, Ms Shaw said:

“There has been a huge amount of criticism of, and anger at, the water industry over recent months.

“I get why people are angry – seeing sewage in our rivers and seas isn’t right. We should have a system that befits the 21st century. So, on behalf of Yorkshire Water, I am sorry.

“We should have acted more quickly to change the situation. That’s why I have decided to refuse any bonus this year as I want us to make progress.”

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Ms Shaw pledged the company would “up its game” by improving the 190 storm overflows “that we know are operating much more than they should” and by “delivering our largest environmental investment ever”.

Yorkshire Water will spend £180m on storm overflow improvements in the next two years, which it said would help to reduce discharges by at least 20%.

The £180m investment will be spent on:

  • Increasing storage within Yorkshire Water’s wastewater treatment works
  • Preventing surface water entering the sewer system
  • Reducing infiltration into sewers
  • Small changes to the operation of treatment works.