Awareness and perceptions of river water quality

Over the past year, there has been growing concern about river water quality in England and Wales, and the frequency with which storm overflows are used.

This research provides insight into customers’ views on this topic.

What the research found

  • 35% of people in England and Wales now see untreated sewage as the biggest cause of river pollution.
  • Despite this, people mainly have positive rather than negative associations with rivers and streams.
  • In principle, 58% would pay more on their water bill to support investment to reduce the need to use storm overflows, subject to the detail and cost.
  • The majority of customers (65%) want planned improvements to ensure that rivers are a healthy habitat for wildlife.

We will use these findings to influence and inform the key decisions that the industry and Government take on the future of storm overflows. This research also demonstrates the need for companies to proactively inform customers about their environmental performance and the steps they are taking to improve their sewer networks and treatment plants.

To find answers to some frequently asked questions on this issue, read our factsheet on storm overflows.