Eleven water companies, including Thames Water which operates in Cirencester and the Cotswolds, will be hit by financial penalties because of missed targets, the regulator Ofwat announced today. 

Overall, the companies will have to return almost £150 million to customers because of missed targets in areas such as maintaining constant water supply, pollution incidents and sewer flooding.

Customers in the Cotswolds will find their bills reduced from next year.

Thames Water and Southern Water were the worst performing companies.

David Black, Ofwat CEO, said: “When it comes to delivering for their customers, too many water companies are falling short, and we are requiring them to return around £150million to their customers. 

“We expect companies to improve their performance every year; where they fail to do so, we will hold them to account.

"The poorest performers, Southern Water and Thames Water, will have to return almost £80million to their customers.

"All water companies need to earn back the trust of customers and the public and we will continue to challenge the sector to improve.” 

Most of the water companies will be hit by financial penalties, Ofwat announced. 

Ash Smith, chair of Windrush Against Sewage Pollution (WASP), said fining water companies is unlikely to affect the shareholders "which is the only way to influence them".  

"It is clear that excessive dividends have been paid over many years that have seriously restricted the companies' ability to function within the law and that is contrary to the licenses issued by Ofwat.

"Why is Ofwat not recovering this money and penalising the shareholders and senior executives who profited from pollution, not removing money that should be used to start fixing the pollution scandal?"

He said: "The regulators and Government are still failing to deal with dishonest and manipulative elements within the failed system which has allowed £72 billion to be extracted from billpayers money by companies that are now reliant on being able to dump excessive amounts of raw sewage and are failing to secure our water supply without causing massive environmental damage."