The BBC has suggested that water companies can make sewage pollution disappear from the official figures.
The broadcaster has reported that BBC Panorama has obtained leaked documents suggesting United Utilities wrongly downgraded dozens of pollution incidents last year.
The programme alleges it found more than 60 cases where the company appeared to have wrongly downgraded the incidents to the lowest level, category 4.
BBC Panorama has also reported it spoke to whistleblowers at the Environment Agency, who said the company was wrongly downgrading pollution incidents and that the agency was failing to conduct independent checks.
United Utilities denies misreporting pollution and said it was false to suggest it misreports pollution incidents and that the final categorisations are decided by the Environment Agency.
The Environment Agency declined to be interviewed for the programme, but said in a statement that some monitoring of water companies could be done remotely.
“We take our responsibility to protect the environment very seriously,” it said. “We respond to every incident and always attend those where there is a significant risk.”