WILD swimmers were outraged to learn a water company paid £92 million to its private shareholders, despite being fined for dumping sewage into rivers.

The group, called Mermaids Against Sewage swim in the River Stour in Manningtree and have protested against Anglian Water several times, most recently in April.

Anglian Water admitted that it dumped sewage into the River Stour 389 times last year.

Anna Helm Baxter, an organiser of the protests said: “To be honest, I’m not sure it’s right to have public services that are privatised.

“Anglian Water’s priority is to be profitable which goes against what providing a public service should be about.

“The money should be back into the environment agency to support its efforts.”

One of Mermaids Against Sewage’s main issues with Anglian Water is the company’s Combined Sewage Overflow (CSO) pipe in Dedham.

Anna added: “If there is heavy rainwater, companies are legally allowed to release sewage into waterways because of CSO pipes

“It’s been a problem for more than 40 years and the pipes haven’t been updated, tons of people swim in Dedham and the CSO pipe released sewage for more than 1200 hours in 2021.”

Anglian Water says this is the first dividend payment owners of Anglian Water Group have taken since 2017.

A spokesperson for Anglian Water said: “Our shareholders have invested over £1.1billion into the business.

“They are the very definition of patient capital as they represent millions of mainly public sector pension holders.

“Over the last five years, they have shared our vision of investing today to ensure the long-term resilience of our region.”

Anglian Water has been fined three times this year for dumping raw sewage into rivers in the Manningtree area.

The spokesperson added: “Instead of taking a dividend, our shareholders have reinvested returns, and wholeheartedly endorsed the changes we made to enshrine environmental and social purpose at the heart of the business when we took the ground-breaking step of changing our Articles of Association.

“We are pleased to now be in a position to repay their faith in us by sharing our financial returns with them."