Safe drinking water is something we take for granted in this country - but across the world, many people are still living without basic sanitation. Take Malawi in Africa as an example. 1.7 million people - 10% of the population - don't have access to clean water. Now the South's biggest water company, Thames Water - based in Reading - is on a mission to change that. Mel Bloor explains.
Credit: Malawi footage courtesy of WaterAid
Judge Sheridan remarked that, on several occasions, Thames Water managers ignoredwarnings and "risks identified by employees and others.
What a dreadful state of affairs that is. Logbook entries reflected the pathetic state of affairs and the frustration of employees.
Thames Water utilities continually failed to report to the Environment Agency despite (managers) being fully aware of the issues and reporting governance.
There is a history of non-compliance.
Richard Aylard, Thames Water, said the company had failed customers and failed the environment. He insisted customers will not face an increase in prices saying the fine will be paid in full by shareholders.
We have failed in our responsibility to the environment and that hurts both personally and professionally because we do care.
We've also failed in our responsibility to our customers, who pay us to provide an essential public service all the time, every day and not just some of the time, and we apologise for all of those failings.
But in the three years since the last of those incidents we have learnt our lesson - there have been sweeping, far-reaching changes across the waste water business.
That has included more people, more and better systems and more investments and that is beginning to pay off.
Thames water has been fined a record £20.3m after it admitted pumping 1.4 billion litres of raw sewage into the Thames.
People and animals were left sick and hundreds of fish and birds died over a two-year period when "out of control" sewage treatment centres owned by Thames Water, sent untreated water into rivers in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
The company allowed more than a billion litres of untreated effluent to enter the waterway in 2013 and 2014.
The judge described it as a disgraceful level of Pollution after people and animals became ill and thousands of fish died.
Judge Francis Sheridan handed down a fine of £20,361,140 - a record for a water utility for an environmental disaster - at a sentencing hearing at Aylesbury Crown Court today.
Judge Sheridan handed down a fine which is ten times higher than the previous record penalty paid by Southern Water
This is a shocking and disgraceful state of affairs. It should not be cheaper to offend than to take appropriate precautions.
The company admitted 13 breaches of environmental laws over discharges from sewage treatment works in Aylesbury, Didcot, Henley and Little Marlow, and a pumping station at Littlemore.
Levels of ammonia described as being "devastating to life" were detected during tests on the river at a Thames Water site at Henley-on-Thames before 50 dead fish were spotted floating on the surface of the river.
At a hearing last week, the judge said he had to ensure the fine was"sufficiently large that they (Thames) get the message"
Thames's previous record fine for pollution was £1 million, paid in January 2016.
The sentencing followed a ruling in March 2016 that big commercial. organisations which cause environmental pollution can be ordered to pay fines running into tens of millions of pounds.
Thames Water has been fined £20.3 million - the largest penalty handed down to a water utility for an environmental disaster after polluting the River Thames with 1.4 billion litres of raw sewage.
Water supplies are returning to normal after a burst main sparked chaos across parts of Dartford.Read the full story ›
The water supplier Thames Water says it has finally found out why Oxford has such a big problem with 'fatbergs'.
When collating the results of a recent survey the firm found that around 80 percent of the city's restaurants were not using fat traps to stop oil and grease spilling into Oxford's sewers. Therefore, the fat collects in the sewer and drains below the city streets and creates the huge, solid deposits, otherwise known as fatbergs.
Earlier this year, a 20 tonne blockage was removed from one drain in the city centre. Kate Bunkall's report explains what happened. The interviewee is Alex Saunders from Thames Water.
Restaurant staff in Oxford are causing a plague of "fatbergs" according to Thames Water.
The water company say 95% of food outlets in the city don't dispose of oil, fat and grease correctly. They are pouring it down the sink, causing more than twenty tonnes of waste to end up in Park End Street sewer each year.
Thames Water website states:
We're really sorry to customers who may be experiencing problems with their water supply.
This is due to a technical problem at our local booster station. We've now fixed the problem but it may take a short while for supplies to be fully restored.
We're sorry for any inconvenience caused.