Water Industry News

£2.7bn For Water Sector To Drive Environmental Improvements

Ofwat, alongside the Environment Agency, Defra, CCW and the Drinking Water Inspectorate, have been given the green light to deliver a range of proposals in order to drive a more resilient, greener future, with £2.7 billion set to be invested to ensure long-lasting environmental improvements.


Companies will now be taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to achieve net zero goals. South Staffs Water and Severn Trent Water, for example, will be introducing low-carbon ways of treating drinking water, which could also potentially reduce the use of chemicals.


In addition, two firms will be rolling out pilot trials to replace customer-owned supply pipes, including those that are leaking or made of lead, with the aim being to deliver better health outcomes for customers and potentially reduce phosphate dosing.


Other schemes include the expansion of smart metering programmes, which will be rolled out by Severn Trent, Thames Water and South West Water, which will help up to 450,000 customers manage their water use.


An additional £793 million is set to be invested by Severn Trent, South Staffs, South West Water, United Utilities and Thames Water on top of the companies’ five-year PR19 packages to help further the green economic recovery.


These, alongside seven others across England, will also bring forward £1.9 billion worth of investment into the 2020-25 period via additional statutory environment schemes.


Severn Trent is set to invest £169 million to improve water quality in 500km of rivers, while £158 million will be invested by the firm, as well as South West Water and United Utilities to reduce harm from storm overflows and trial the establishment of two new bathing rivers.


Rebecca Pow, environment minister, said: “This package of investment will be vital in driving forward our green recovery. Water companies must step up and deliver on the most pressing issues facing our environment – including water quality.


“I am particularly pleased to see the increase in funding to reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows following a call to action from the Storm Overflows Taskforce.”


This comes after industry watchdog Ofwat urged water companies around the country to deliver greater public value and further social and environmental benefits, with a set of proposed principles now published to underpin just how this can be achieved.


The aim of the principles is to explore the scope of public value, placing greater emphasis on environmental and social impacts, while delivering lasting and measurable benefits, as well as collaboration to optimise solutions, transparency of information and making sure outcomes don’t come at greater customer cost without the appropriate support in place.


Ofwat senior director Jenny Block explained that this new framework will make sure that firms can provide greater public value across their entire operational base, well into the future.


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