UK water companies pledge to cut bills and tackle leakage


Water cascades down the Pen-y-garreg dam in the Elan Valley in mid-Wales on April 13, 2014. The dam is one of a network of four dams that created five reservoirs when built in the early 1900's to provide the city of Birmingham with water. The water is gravity fed towards the city dropping 52 metres along its 73 miles (117 km). AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS / AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS        (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Water cascades down the Pen-y-garreg dam in the Elan Valley in mid-Wales on April 13, 2014. The dam is one of a network of four dams that created five reservoirs when built in the early 1900's to provide the city of Birmingham with water. The water is gravity fed towards the city dropping 52 metres along its 73 miles (117 km). AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS / AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Four of England’s water giants including Thames Water have announced business plans on Monday (03) to cut leakages and improve services while keeping prices at least flat in real terms after their performance was questioned in the country’s hottest summer season.

Environment Minister Michael Gove urged the water companies to prioritise in tackling water leakage which moved up two per cent to 3.183 billion litres per day in 2017-18.

The strategies are being submitted by the water companies in England and Wales to the regulator Ofwat for the five years starting from 2020. The Water Services Regulation Authority, or Ofwat, is the separate body accountable for economic regulation of the privatised water and sewerage business in England and Wales. Ofwat is expected release its assessment of each company’s plan in January 2019.

In its five years development plan starting from 2020, water company, Thames Water has said in a release that, its £11.7 billion investment plan includes £2.1bn to boost resilience and reduce leakage and follows engagement with nearly one million customers over the last three years.

Seven out of its 10 customers approved the final proposals, which contains plans for a four-fold increase in financial support for customers across London and the Thames Valley who struggle to pay.

Also, the company features modest distributions to external shareholders of around £20m annually as Thames prioritises investment in its vast network, with average household bills remaining flat before inflation. The plan will also increase Thames’ financial resilience, with gearing reduced to 76.2 per cent and the ‘equity buffer’ increased to £4.7bn, the company said in its plan submitted.

However, Thames Water has opted to keep its water bills flat for the five years.

Severn Trent in its proposed five years plan aims to reduce its bills by 5 per cent and aims to invest £6.6bn for 2020-2025 period. The company also aims to cut water leakages by 15 per cent.

United Utilities has also announced that it plans to cut water bills by 10.5 per cent in real terms by 2025. if the proposal submitted to Ofwat gets the green signal, then the bills would fall by £45 in real terms by 2025, which will support 2,50,000 customers moving out of water poverty, the company said.

Pennon Group’s South West Water and United Utilities Group Plc, pledges to reduce its average bill lower than it was in 2010 and to spend more than £ one billion to improve services, enhance operational resilience and deliver the largest programme of environmental improvements for 15 years. The company also pledges to offer £20m stake for customers and an enhanced scheme to share success, the company said in its proposed plan.