Northumbrian Water admits that raw sewage can be illegally pumped from manholes and pollute Durham stream.

  • Northumbrian Water has admitted unauthorised discharges into a stream
  • Effluent was able to escape from a manhole and into Coundon Burn, Bishop Auckland
  • Judge Sarah Mallett announced that the firm would be sentenced January 6

Northumbrian Water admitted unauthorised discharges in a stream.

Between March 13 and 14, 2017, Effluent poured out of a manhole into Coundon Burn in Bishop Auckland County Durham.

According to the Northern Echo, the pollution was caused when a combined sewer became blocked. This was believed to have been caused by a buildup of bricks or rubble.  

The defence barrister of the major water company appeared by videolink at Newcastle Crown Court to admit two breaches in environmental legislation, namely that it caused unauthorised water discharge activities.

Effluent came out of a manhole and into Coundon Burn (file picture of a culvert) in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, between March 13 and 14 in 2017

Effluent was pumped out of a manhole into Coundon Burn (file photo of a culvert), in Bishop Auckland, County Durham between March 13-14 2017.

Judge Sarah Mallett stated that the firm would be sentenced on January 6.

Coundon Burn flows into River Gaunless, a tributary to the River Wear.

Northumbrian Water had in April denied two counts of causing a discharge activity. However, the pleas were changed today at a case management hearing. 

The hearing lasted three hours. The prosecution brought by Environment Agency and the defence discussed culpability.

The court heard that both sides agreed that the harm done was ‘category three.

The pollution in Coundon Burn (pictured: culvert) was caused by a blocked combined sewer, believed to have been sparked by a build-up of bricks and rubble

Coundon Burn’s pollution (pictured: Culvert) was caused in part by a blocked combined sewer. It is believed that the blockage was caused due to a build-up bricks and rubble.

A Category 3 incident is one that has a’minor or minor impact or effect on environment, people or property’ according to the Environment Agency.

Court did not provide any further details regarding the breaches.

Northumbrian Water provides water for 2.7 million people in North East England.

The company had previously been fined £540,000 with £142,000 costs after admitting a pollution case at Heads Hope Burn, near Castle Eden, in May 2017. 

Tree root damage caused blockages in the combined sewer that allowed raw sewage to flow through a manhole cover into the stream. 

The company had denied causing or knowingly permitting a water discharge, but later changed its please on October 5 at Durham Crown Court.