Government and Ofwat pushing ahead with water efficiency

It has been just over six months since the Waterwise Water Efficiency Strategy for the UK was launched. The strategy was developed in consultation with the water sector - including Waterwise supporters and the Water UK-supported steering group. It sets out a blueprint to deliver a vision of a UK in which all people, homes and businesses are water-efficient, and where water is used wisely, every day, everywhere.

The Waterwise Leadership Group on Water Efficiency and Customer Participation has also been working to bring together senior UK water industry leaders in a more ambitious approach to wasting less water - using this to drive a more customer-led culture.

This blog post outlines some recent areas where Government and regulators are pushing ahead on water efficiency and how we plan to work with them and industry going forward.

25 Year Environment Plan


The Government's 25 year environment plan was launched on 11 January 2018 and outlines how the government wishes to see water use fall through water companies taking "bold action to reduce water demands, both now and in the future".

The key actions outlined (for England) are:

  • Working with the industry and the group led by the NGO Waterwise to improve water efficiency and customer involvement to explore the impact of introducing new water efficiency measures.
  • Taking forward measures that will make significant water savings where practical and cost effective to do so.
  • We will work with industry to determine appropriate targets for personal water consumption and the measures needed to achieve them.

Ofwat 2019 price review: Final methodology


The final price review methodology was published by Ofwat on 13 December 2017. Waterwise responded to the consultation on the draft methodology and it was great to see that the final methodology better reflected Defra’s expectation that Ofwat “promote ambitious action to reduce leakage and per capita consumption” - and indeed Ofwat’s own stated ambition in this area.

There are several key areas of the price review methodology that can help further water efficiency for sustainable water supplies in PR19. Per capita consumption remains a common performance commitment. Although there are some issues with the consistency of reporting and definitions around PCC this indicator should help drive investment and support within water companies for water efficiency.

The PR19 methodology outlines that Ofwat:
  • expect to see companies propose more ambitious reductions relative to previous years and to support their proposals using the approaches to setting performance commitments; and,
  • companies should challenge themselves against the levels and reductions achieved by other water companies, including in other countries.
The methodology also sets out “Companies should consider whether, and how, resilience risks could be best managed across company boundaries, at a regional level, or even national level. For example, through public campaigns to promote water conservation and lower per capita consumption”. 

What's next in 2018 for Waterwise


Waterwise held a joint workshop with the Water Efficiency Strategy Steering Group and the Water Efficiency and Customer Participation Leadership Group on 17 Jan. This supported key areas of work in 2018 including:
  • Reviewing and responding to draft Water Resources Management Plans - we encourage all stakeholders to comment on water efficiency options in their water company’s plan
  • An independent review and cost benefit analysis of water labelling - this should be a key measure to help the industry and customers choose to save water
  • Water efficiency and customer participation leadership group - continue the discussion and knowledge sharing as well as top-down support for water efficiency within water companies
  • Working with water companies on training and internal cultural change to enable water efficiency options, which involve behaviour changes and some uncertainties that are different from the traditional approaches most companies are used to
  • Sharing knowledge and best practice to support PR19 business plans on ambitious water efficiency measures and challenging water use by water companies by comparing this within the UK and in other countries
  • Working with government and the industry to develop government measures and actions to underpin water efficiency ambition, as well as industry ones
To find out more register to attend the Waterwise Annual Conference on 6 March 2018 in London.






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