Yorkshire Water hit with backlash over Tweet celebrating the Oscars

‘What about an award for the most sewage in a river?’ Yorkshire Water is hit with furious backlash over its Tweet celebrating the Oscars – after firm faced criticism from Paul Whitehouse in documentary on river pollution

  • A recent documentary, Our Troubled Rivers, was critical of Yorkshire Water 
  • Locals responded angrily, asking if there was an Oscar for most polluted river 

Yorkshire Water has faced an online backlash after tweeting about tonight’s Oscars as appalled locals responded with criticism to the firm’s record on releasing sewage into rivers, following a documentary on British waters by Paul Whitehouse. 

The water company tweeted about the ceremony with Yorkshire versions of the titles nominated for Best Picture, tagging it the ‘Yorkshire Water Oscars 95’.

But social media users hit back at the firm, responding by sharing videos of sewage-infested rivers which they suggested Yorkshire Water should nominate in their awards.

Several users pointed to the River Wharfe, posting images and videos which appear to show sewage being released into the already dirty-looking water.

It follows a new BBC documentary with Paul Whitehouse, Our Troubled Rivers, which is examining British waters and that criticised the water company this week.

Locals responded to Yorkshire Water’s tweet by sharing video footage appearing to show the release of sewage into the River Wharfe

In their Oscar tweet, Yorkshire Water said: ‘We’ve taken this year’s best picture nominations and put our own Yorkshire twist on them! Which of our nominees would you vote for?’

Titles included Everythin Everywheear orl a’ Once, Avabrew: The Way of Yorkshire Water and T’ Banshees of Brighouse. 

One social media responded: ‘If there was an Oscar for Yorkshire Water having two out of the top three most sewage polluted rivers in the country, then you’d have them,’ accompanied by a video showing liquid being released into a Yorkshire river.

A second said: ‘Yorkshire waters very own Oscars ffs. 


Singer and water safety campaigner Feargel Sharkey, who has more than 160,000 Twitter followers, retweeted the videos in support of the comments.

Mr Sharkey, who was the lead singer in The Undertones in the 1970s and 1980s, has been regularly posting about the release of sewage into British waters, which usually occurs during times of heavy rainfall in which overflow areas become full.

The footage showed extremely dirty river water brown in colour, with further water and what appears to be sewage flowing into it.

It then shows underwater footage of the debris and various plastics underneath the water’s surface, which included what appeared to be used sanitary products. 

The footage showed used sanitary products littering the bottom of the river in places

Sections of the video showed Yorkshire rivers with murky patches floating within it

Images showed river patches completely brown after the release of sewage

Other local people joined in the criticism. One Twitter user said: ‘Instead of tweeting about Oscars do your job and stop polluting our rivers and sea.’

They added: ‘I live in Scarborough where we lost our blue flag and there’s pollution in the South Bay, don’t talk about your intentions you haven’t been doing your job for years.’

Yorkshire Water responded: ‘We’re investing £180million over the next couple of years to reduce discharges, as we know how frustrating it is for our customers to see and hear about pollution in Yorkshire’s rivers.

‘We are committed to playing our part to improve water quality in rivers and seas around the region and it’s important we work in partnership with other organisations to help make our rivers and seas healthier.’

It later added: ‘Separating the waste and rainfall network is almost impossible due to the cost, disruption, and environmental impact. 

Yorkshire Water stressed releases are ‘controlled by permits issues by the Environment Agency’

Viewers were less than impressed with the footage shared by some of items littering the river floor

‘The entire process is controlled by permits issues by the Environment Agency.’ 

Another social media user said: ‘Will there be an award for gaslighting the public?’

A third added: ‘Is there an Oscar for the amount of Sewage your company has dumped into our rivers and seas?’

The criticism follows the release of BBC’s Our Troubled Rivers, in which angler Paul Whitehouse hit out at water companies for discharging sewage into British waters.

A statement on the government’s website in reaction to the show stressed it is taking ‘significant action in recent years to hold water companies to account.’

It added: ‘The law has always allowed for discharges, subject to a regulated permitting system. 

‘The way our Victorian sewers are built is that wastewater and rainwater are carried in the same pipe. When it reaches a certain height, it pours into another pipe and into rivers. 

‘We believe that storm overflows are operating too frequently, which is why the government has set strict new targets.’

The 95th Oscars ceremony will take place on Sunday evening. 

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