More than 100 water pollution incidents were recorded in the Braintree district over the last five years, new figures show.

Figures obtained through a freedom of information request show 119 water pollution incidents were recorded by the Environment Agency in the district between 2018 and 2022, including 16 last year.

The figures cover the top three levels of severity, with the area seeing seven 'major' or 'significant' incidents over the same timeframe - four of them last year.

The water industry has come under recent scrutiny over how it records pollution events.

Water pollution can also come from other sources, such as agricultural run-off or industry and manufacturing.

In Braintree, 19 cases were assessed as coming from a water company in the past five years – with two categorised 'significant'.

The Rivers Trust, a charity working to protect UK waterways, said: "People are rightly demanding that we restore our water bodies to a state of good health and resilience."

Director of communications Tessa Wardley said "any pollution affecting rivers must be taken seriously", noting that not a single English river is currently classed as being in good health.

Across England, the Environment Agency recorded nearly 36,000 category one to three water pollution incidents between 2018 and 2022.

The number of cases judged to be from water companies has risen from 1,922 in 2018 to 2,213 last year.

A spokesman for trade association Water UK said: "Although this data reveals that two-thirds of all water pollution incidents had nothing to do with water companies, the industry takes its role in reducing pollution very seriously.

They said serious incidents had fallen by more than a third since 2011.

"Companies are now proposing to invest £96 billion, the highest on record, which will include upgrades to sewage treatment works and an overhaul of our sewer network," they added.

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: "The number of pollution incidents caused by the water industry is unacceptably high. We expect water companies to significantly reduce them, and to report them to us quickly.

"We will not hesitate to take enforcement action where necessary and have secured over £150m in fines from the water industry since 2015."