South West Water boss gives up £450k bonus amid public anger over sewage pollution

090523 Susan Davy Tim Pestridge / Pennon
Susan Davy is the chief executive of Pennon Group Plc. Credit: Tim Pestridge/Pennon

The boss of South West Water has given up her £450,000 bonus amid public anger over sewage pollution in rivers and seas.

Chief executive of the Pennon Group and South West Water Susan Davy and Thames Water boss Sarah Bentley are the first bosses in the sector to forgo their bonuses.

Ms Davy was appointed to the top job at South West Water in 2020. She had been the finance director of the firm since 2007.

The Pennon Group owns a number of companies including South West Water, Bournemouth Water, Bristol Water and Pennon Water Services.

Ms Davy is paid a base salary of around £460,000 and the firm says this year her bonus would be in the region of £450,000.

Susan Davy, CEO of the Pennon Group: This is the right thing to do. We’re listening to our customers, we get it.

"I want South West Water focused on delivering for customers, communities and the region, with no excuses.”

The company said the bonus will instead be reinvested into WaterShare+. Initially launched in 2020, this scheme helps people on low incomes pay their water metre bills.

South West Water has faced criticism in recent months after receiving a one-star rating from the Environment Agency.

In February, the regulator Ofwat said the company was "lagging behind" in five key areas: customer satisfaction; interruptions to water supply; water quality; pollution incidents; and treatment works compliance.

In March, the water firm launched an interactive map showing sewage releases around the coast.

The WaterFit Live map is designed to share information about the region’s bathing beaches, location and performance of storm overflows, as well as the company’s plans to improve water quality.

The government is making it mandatory for all water companies to provide public data about the frequency and duration of storm overflow discharges in near real-time by 2025.