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A Manifesto for Water

Water UK have recently launched the Water Industries plans for England for 2020 to 2025 which will address how they plan to provide water and sewerage service to the public. This is a plan which is done every five years and submitted to OFWAT for approval.  The approach has brought real improvements to the industry and around £150 billion has been invested over the last 30 years.

As the risk of drought increases and the impacts of climate change become more prevalent the water industry must seek new ways to keep customers expectations high and address a balance between affordable bills with better services and improvements to the environment. A consultation process with millions of customers has taken place and the new plan reflects their views and priorities.

Key facts from the proposal.

  • 5.3 Million customers have been consulted
  • 1.4 Million customers have received help with their bills
  • 50 Billion has been invested for improvements
  • Supply interruptions have seen a 36% decrease in the time taken to resolve them.
  • 8000km of river improvements have been made.
  • 461 million less litres of water has been leaked from the network each day

In the next five years the water companies will make improvements in customer service, support for new developments and provide protection against drought. Since the privatisation of the water network more than £50 billion has been invested and between 2015 and 2020 an average of £8 billion has been spent to further improve the environment. This investment will be increased by £6 billion in the next five years and will help to improve services to customers, deal with the issues of a growing population needing more access to and improved water quality, providing water for new housing developments and address the issues of climate change.

A combination of new advances in technology and smarter systems will help to achieve this through the use of “Big Data” technology which will be able to detect problems in the system and speed up the time it takes to makes repairs.  Burst pipes, loss of supply and repairs are increasingly causing problems to customers, however the companies’ plan to reduce downtime by 36% over the period and make further improvements to the speed and effectiveness of tackling burst pipes.

Water bills are planned to be reduced by 4% over the five year period.

The water network which mostly runs underground is now old and has become difficult to replace without causing major disruption. However new techniques such as satellite imaging, drones and acoustic equipment are now being used and the proposal will reduce leakage by 461 million litres every day.

The environment is also an area where investment has led to improved standards and a return of wildlife to our rivers and estuaries. Treating pollution and sewage escapes are high on the agenda as are improvements to the environment which will create new habitats for animals and provide natural features such as tree planting and protection against flooding with improved flood barriers. Outdoor leisure facilities will also provide people and wildlife new areas to enjoy whilst also improving bathing water by reducing serious pollution incidents by 90%.

All of these plans will now be reviewed by OFWAT and will be subject to some changes in the coming months before being confirmed in December 2019. Once agreed the companies will be tied to their income to deliver the results.

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