Water companies propose largest ever investment
- £96 billion set to be invested in water and sewage infrastructure between 2025 and 2030 – a near-doubling of current levels.
- This unprecedented investment is equivalent to more than 40% of total investment in the rest of Europe.
- The number of households receiving support with bills to more than double to 3.2 million.
- More than 30,000 new jobs and 4,000 new apprenticeships created right across the country to help deliver improvements – a 50% increase in workforce.
Water companies in England and Wales have today submitted ambitious plans to the economic regulator Ofwat, proposing the largest ever investment in the sector.
In total, water companies propose investing £96 billion over the period of 2025 – 2030, a 90% increase on the current period. This investment is essential to maintain the highest quality drinking water for a growing population, ensure the security of our water supply in the future and significantly reduce the amount of sewage entering rivers and seas.
If approved by Ofwat, the plans will:
- Build ten new reservoirs to secure our water supplies.
- Cut leakage by over a quarter by 2030 compared with the start of the decade – which will increase performance to among the top five countries in Europe.
- Invest £11 billion to reduce overflow spills – more than triple the current rate and representing the most ambitious modernisation of sewers since the Victorian era. Spills are forecast to reduce by more than 140,000 each year by the end of the decade, stopping the equivalent of 6,800 Olympic swimming pools of spills each year, thanks to upgrades of sewage works, the creation of new nature-based schemes to manage rainwater and technology to better manage flows.
- Install advanced technology at sewage works to remove over a million tonnes of phosphorus from rivers.
While increasing bills is never welcome, investment in our water system is essential to ensure the security of our water supply in the future. These critical investments will be funded by incremental increases to bills over a five-year period. The average bill increase in England is expected to be an additional £7 per month by 2025, compared with today. This is expected to increase to £13 per month in 2030. Over 1.6 million customers were consulted on the development of plans, and how improvements should be prioritised.
Water companies understand the impact of the current economic environment and cost-of-living crisis and have, as part of the plans, committed to well over doubling the number of households eligible to receive support – with 3.2 million households set to receive financial support – an increase of 2 million households.
This record investment builds on the £200 billion that has already been invested in the water system over the last three decades. This investment has transformed the quality of our drinking water; cut pollution from sewage works by up to three quarters; and a sevenfold increase in the number of beaches achieving ‘excellent’ ratings since the 1990s.
The country urgently needs this investment in our water and sewerage infrastructure. Importantly, the independent regulator will ensure bills are no higher than needed to fund each improvement and will only approve spending if they agree it is new, necessary and represents value for money. If improvements aren’t delivered, bills will automatically be reduced.
Water UK, Chief Executive, David Henderson said:
“These record-breaking investment proposals will secure our water supply as we deal with a changing climate and a growing population.
“While increasing bills is never welcome, this investment in our country’s infrastructure is essential to ensure the security of our water supply. Water companies are seeking regulatory approval to reduce overflow spills into rivers and seas as fast as possible and to doubling the number of households receiving support to pay their bills.
“Ofwat now needs to back these plans that are both ambitious and vital. Approving the plans is necessary so that we can provide the highest quality drinking water for a growing population, ensure the security of our water supply in the future and reduce the use of storm overflows as much as possible.”
In May, water companies apologised for not giving sufficient attention to the issues the public care about, such as overflow spills, and promised a plan to change this. Today’s investment proposals will begin that work, and while it will take time to overhaul 100,000km of old sewers, the industry is determined to act. Water companies will also work with the Government, regulators and others who also have a responsibility to care for our water such as farmers, housebuilders and manufacturers. Collective action is needed to protect our precious water resources in this country.
Notes to editors
For more information, please call the Water UK comms team on 020 7344 1805 or email firstname.lastname@example.org