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Press release

Water UK launches public consultation on a new Vision for the sector

Water UK, the industry body representing water and wastewater companies, today launches a public consultation on building an ambitious, long-term Vision for the water sector in England. 

The ‘Developing a 2050 Vision for the Water Sector’ discussion paper is the first step towards agreeing ways of accelerating and broadening the sector’s role in the face of unprecedented challenges. 

The increased risk of droughts, flooding, biodiversity loss and significant population growth, combined with the climate emergency, will place significant pressure on the environment, water resources, and ageing infrastructure, unless there is a long-term strategic plan for future generations. At the same time, there is an opportunity to find new ways of delivering for customers and the environment. 

The Vision 2050 discussion paper confirms the industry’s ambition to be recognised as a global environmental leader: stewarding the improvement and protection of England’s iconic rivers, seas, lakes and streams; acting on the severe impacts of climate change; as well as protecting customers’ long-term interests in keeping households and businesses bills affordable.  

Christine McGourty, Water UK Chief Executive, commented: 

“The launch of today’s public consultation on our 2050 Vision for the water sector in England is the beginning of a dialogue, with those inside and outside of the industry, on how we collectively address the challenges we face, such as the climate emergency.  

“Water is a precious natural resource, and over the coming decades, society will need water companies, suppliers, and others working together to continue delivering a reliable world-class service. 

“We welcome views from all individuals and organisations in helping us develop a Vision which the sector can stand behind for the long-term benefit of customers, society and the environment.” 

Rachel Fletcher, Ofwat Chief Executive, said: 

“We support the water industry’s Vision to provide the very best service for customers and improve the environment and life through water both now and in the future.  

“The water sector faces profound challenges, not least from climate change, population growth and changing customer needs. It’s vital that companies, regulators and government redouble their joint work to unlock the industry’s full potential to benefit customers, communities and the natural world while keeping bills affordable.   

“We look forward to working with Water UK as they develop their Vision and identify the priority work we must all focus on.”  

Emma Clancy, Consumer Council for Water (CCW) Chief Executive, said:  

“We welcome the water industry’s efforts to deliver a clear Vision to overcome the mounting pressure on its services and the environment and we want to see future – as well as current – consumers have a stake in developing those plans. 

“The scale of the challenge demands urgency but also value for money and a sustainable package of support to keep bills affordable as we recognise the cost to customers of funding essential long-term investment.” 

Lila Thompson, British Water Chief Executive, said:

“British Water welcomes this innovative and wide-ranging Vision for the water sector aimed at positioning the industry as a global environmental leader. 

“Our supply chain members and I look forward to supporting the ambitious aims of the discussion paper – and to feeding in comments – to bring about a step change in the way the industry works together. 

“For our membership, covering a range of companies in the water and wastewater industry, collaboration has never been more vital for meeting the imminent and long-term challenges ahead.” 

Water UK welcomes stakeholder responses to the Vision discussion paper, which was produced with support from Frontier Economics, by Wednesday 31 March. All submissions, including any supporting evidence, should be sent to: Vision2050@water.org.uk. 

Water UK will also be hosting virtual roundtable events to gather views of stakeholders from across the sector before publishing the final paper later this Summer.