Water 2050:
A White Paper

Urgent change for the future of the water sector

Water 2050 sets out water companies’ ambition for the future of the sector in England, and the urgent changes needed to achieve this. These changes will ensure that current and future generations of customers receive world-leading services that are affordable, while tackling environmental challenges.

Our ambition


As water companies we have a clear purpose:

To protect public health, improve the environment, unlock environmental growth, and act as a responsible leader at the heart of England’s regions today and in the future.


To achieve our purpose, our vision is that:

By 2050, we will be globally recognised as an environmental leader, stewarding the improvement of rivers and seas, acting on the climate emergency and protecting customers’ long-term interests.

The water sector faces enormous challenges over the next 30 years:

Meeting customers' increasing expectations for improved services

Climate change impacts, such as drought, flooding and other extreme weather events

Reversing the decline in biodiversity

Decarbonising our operations and supply chain

Comparing the scale of each of the challenges, climate change and the biodiversity crisis have the biggest impact on our ability to deliver our purpose.

Our twin priorities are:

Delivering environmental impact more efficiently

Ensuring that every pound spent delivers maximum environmental impact for money

Protecting long-term customer interests through the right investments at the right time

Joint evaluation of investments’ value and risk, ensuring the best value interventions are taken forward

How we will achieve this

To overcome these challenges and achieve our Vision, water companies, the supply chain, Government, regulators, customers and communities must all come together.

Priority area 1

Priority area 1

Delivering environmental impact more efficiently

  • Introduce Outcome-Based Environmental Regulation – a new model for regulation that unlocks innovation and empowers water companies to deliver the most environmental improvement with the lowest possible impact to bills
  • Ensure the sector has world-class green skills and the mindset to innovate
Priority area 2

Priority area 2

Protecting long-term customer interests through the right investments at the right time

  • Establish sector-wide planning, resilience and risk frameworks
  • Develop forward-looking approaches to investment decisions
  • Bring together plans into a single joined-up long-term adaptive plan