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UK Supreme Court Ruling Could Lead to Increased Lawsuits Against Water Companies Over Sewage Discharges

Water companies in the UK may face a surge of lawsuits over sewage discharges, following a Supreme Court ruling. The court allowed the Manchester Ship Canal Company to sue United Utilities for raw sewage release into the canal. This decision opens the door for adjacent waterway owners and the public to sue other utility companies.

Environmental groups welcomed the ruling, highlighting the financial and regulatory pressures on water companies for unauthorized waste discharges. The judges noted that better infrastructure investments could prevent such incidents.

United Utilities has about 100 outfalls along the canal, where treated waste is released. Raw sewage is also dumped during system overloads. The company argued that only regulators could act on spills, but the court disagreed.

Lawyers predict a wave of claims from affected parties, including swimmers, fishermen, and environmental organizations. The ruling could impact water companies' financial stability, potentially affecting consumer bills.

The Environmental Law Foundation praised the ruling as a victory for environmental justice. However, the ruling adds to the challenges faced by utility companies, already burdened with significant debt.

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