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from Water UK

theView from Water UK
29 June 2012

Water resources

Resilient resources and risk management

The combination in June of flash flooding and Temporary Usage Bans to manage drought underlines the challenges faced in delivering sustainable water resources in the UK.

The water industry is increasingly looking at ways to ensure security of supply, while at the same time reducing its impact on the environment. At the Water UK Innovation Hub last week, delegates considered how stakeholders - including industry, government agencies and the public - will need to work together to achieve this.

Delegates recognised that there has been a shift within the water sector towards managing risk, rather than avoiding it, as well as a recognition that regional variations in approach are increasingly necessary.

Water UK has a key role in providing a national picture for policy-makers, aligning these variations, and in building on the co-ordinated approach to the drought.

Resilient water resources 2012: a Water UK innovation hub

Hosepipe bans lifted as drought conditions ease

Nick Ellins


Publication of Defra guidance is milestone for water company social tariffs

The publication in June of Defra guidance on social tariffs is a long-awaited step toward the introduction of additional measures to do more to help customers who need assistance.

Water companies are already working with their customers and with other agencies, such as Citizens Advice, to ensure essential water and sewerage services are affordable for all. Social tariffs, which water companies have long sought, will provide an additional tool to help those who are struggling to pay their bills.

Under the new guidance, companies may, following consultation with their customers, bring forward cross-subsidies to reduce charges for individuals who would have difficulty paying in full. As well as helping those customers in difficulty, this will help reduce the debt burden, which currently adds an average of £14 to the annual water bill of each household.

Milestone reached in move toward social tariffs

Social tariffs - Defra guidance

Rob Wesley


Opening new markets

With the opening up of the retail market expected to be a key feature in the much-anticipated Draft Water Bill, Water UK is working with partners to ensure that the industry is prepared for the challenges - and the opportunities - such a move may bring.

The April 2017 timeline for delivery is widely regarded as tight, not least because the enabling legislation has yet to be published, even in draft form. However, at a recent round of workshops, key stakeholders - including the water industry Commissioner for Scotland, Defra and Ofwat - were in broad agreement that, while there is much to do in a short time, preparation now is imperative.

Retail market reform is multi-faceted and will require a multi-faceted approach, including addressing customer-facing issues.

Rob Wesley

EU regulation

Tackling substances at source

Public health, through water safety, is the primary concern of the water industry, which invests millions each year to ensure UK water quality remains high. There is concern, however, that plans by the European Commission could impose an undue and unnecessary extra burden on water companies to reduce certain elements within water supplies.

There is currently little evidence that the further 15 elements under consideration as additions to the list of 33 ‘priority substances’ in current legislation are harmful either to the environment or to public health.

However, the potentially huge costs in monitoring and removing some of these substances could raise water bills for customers, as well as significantly increasing companies’ carbon footprints.

Water UK continues to work with its European partners to put forward the merits of ‘at source’ removal, such as in pharmaceutical manufacturing plants, as against ‘end of pipe’ removal by water companies, which is both more difficult and more expensive.

Water UK Communication


Working together to improve the UK investment landscape

Water UK is delighted to confirm that Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and President of the Board of Trade, will be delivering the keynote address at the Investing in Infrastructure conference on 19 September.

In November 2011, the Government published an updated National Infrastructure Plan. It outlined major commitments to attract investment in critical infrastructure projects.

However, six months on and the huge challenge is still evident - securing long-term funding for infrastructure at a time of austerity.

The 3rd Water UK Investing in Infrastructure conference will provide an essential, pan-utility forum to debate the challenge of attracting the capital needed in a competitive global market place.

The event will explore the critical, cross-sector issues and bring together leaders from energy, transport, construction, water and telecommunications.

Conference programme

Sejal Lad


the View...

The View from Water UK is a monthly update of news and water industry positions relating to our immediate and longer-term policy work for a sustainable water industry.

Water UK engages with government, regulators and stakeholders to provide representation and expertise on behalf of the water and the water and sewerage companies and their customers for the efficient delivery of water services, resources management, environmental protection and good governance, within an effective economic framework.

Individual policy advisers contribute to the newsletter and can be contacted by email.

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Next events

Investing in Infrastructure
19 September 2012

Leakage Conference
18 October 2012

Recent press releases

Milestone reached in move toward social tariffs

Hosepipe bans lifted as drought conditions ease

Water UK responds to 'Drought Prospects 2012'