The future of the water sector in the UK basically looks pretty good, because all of the sector’s stakeholders, including water companies, have joined in partnership to ensure the future of water, with water companies contributing expertise and perspectives to inform the debate.
The water sector in the UK will face growing challenges from climate change, population growth, changing customer expectations, and more restrictive environmental standards. These challenges will require the continuing evolution of the sector’s regulatory framework as well and significant further investment over the next 25 years and beyond.
Previous studies and discussions have shown that while there are major problems with the future of the water sector in the UK, no one sector or organisation has all the answers, and the only way to ensure that there is sufficient water for future generations in the UK is for all stakeholders to work together.
This led to a debate between 25 contributions, covering a wide range of topics such as future challenges and uncertainties facing the sector, totex, outcomes, capital maintenance, menus, customer engagement, RCV, access pricing, financing the water sector, the duration of price controls, water resources and sludge treatment and disposal.
Some of the collaborations by water companies include the following:
- Yorkshire Water has worked with PwC to develop a range of scenarios for the long term future of the water sector, to stimulate discussion on the long term vision for the water sector;
- UKWIR has commissioned Harry Bush and First Economics to consider the future role of customer and stakeholder engagement in the water industry, looking at lessons from PR14 and from experiences of customer engagement in price reviews in other sectors;
- Thames Water has commissioned Deloitte to carry out a statistical exploration of the water industry Service Incentive Mechanism;
- Water UK has commissioned NERA to assess options for the future use of inflation indices in the water industry in England and Wales, from the perspective of the long term interests of customers; and
- Wessex Water has considered how changes in regulation that would foster greater commercialisation in the sludge sector could drive greater innovation and efficiency.
The UK water sector has achieved quite a lot over the past 25 years as a result of sustained investment, and it is hoped that this collaboration will achieve even more.