News and Analysis | Casey Goodwin | August 25, 2022

Sewage pollution: what can we do?

It’s been declared ‘the summer of sewage’. Billions of litres of contaminated water is being poured into our rivers and oceans, potentially leading to serious illnesses for both humans and animals. Many of us could have been swimming in human waste over the summer months, and great harm is being caused to our already fragile wildlife and ecosystems.

Quite frankly, it’s nothing short of environmental vandalism.

According to press reports, all of the wastewater companies in England and Wales have failed to meet their targets to tackle pollution or sewage floods. Raw sewage was pumped into rivers and seas about 375,000 times in 2021, according to the Environment Agency.

Despite these failures, many water company bosses are enjoying multimillion-pound salaries and bonuses, all while the UK’s rivers and swimming spots are being polluted.  

Water companies are not the only ones to blame. Between them, state regulators, the non-governmental organisations who manage and monitor the water industry, and the government themselves, there has been a legion of failures. Amongst these failures is a lack of investment – not a single new reservoir has been built in three decades. And last year, MPs could have adopted an amendment to the Environment Bill, which would have put a legal duty on water companies to take immediate action on sewage pollution – but they voted against it.

What can we do? One way of taking action to help protect our waters is to avoid propping up profiteering water companies through your savings and investments.  Instead, you could ensure that your pension is being invested in companies which are focusing on finding solutions to help our precious coastlines and water systems.

To protect the future of our planet, it makes sense to invest in freshwater distribution and protection, wastewater treatment, water efficiency applications and sustainable water management systems. Portfolios can include innovative water technology companies such as:

  • Ecolab, which offers water, hygiene and infection prevention solutions and services – they’re aiming to conserve 300 billion gallons of water each year.
  • Xylem, whose efforts to decarbonize the water sector helped it win the Net Zero Carbon Champion award at the 2022 Global Water Awards. Its offerings prevented over 500 billion gallons of polluted water from flooding in 2021, and the company helped its clients reuse over 285 billion gallons of water last year.
  • Evoqua Water Technologies, which provides water treatment equipment and services, as well as mobile and emergency water supply solutions 
  • Advanced Drainage Systems – doing some brilliant work in the sector, including making water pipes from recycled plastic such as shampoo bottles.

A number of our portfolios also have exposure to the Fidelity Sustainable Water & Waste Fund, which is a dedicated sustainable fund to water, utilities and waste companies, plus those supplying them in the supply chain.

Whilst the UK’s water woes go from bad to worse, it makes sense to be investing in the problem-solvers that are helping to provide cleaner, safer and healthier water for all. The benefits for public health and the environment are undeniable.

If you’re at all concerned about sewage pollution and want to make sure that your money is going towards doing good for our rivers and oceans, get us in touch with us to chat it through.

RISK WARNING:
As always with investments, your capital is at risk. The value of your investment can go down as well as up, and you may get back less than you invest. This information should not be regarded as financial advice.

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