We promise to provide you with great water

We supply the North West with approximately 1,750 million litres of water each day. Every drop has been treated at one of our 89 water treatment works to extremely high standards and transported through a vast network of over 42,000km of underground pipes.

Investment since privatisation in 1989 means we have one of the newest water networks in the UK, providing a reliable and high quality water supply.

Carrying out more ‘live’ repairs (where water remains flowing even while pipes are being fixed in the street)

and using sophisticated network monitoring techniques to detect leaks or spot problems before they can escalate has helped to reduce interruptions to supply for customers.

We monitor our water quality through a rigorous ‘source to tap’ process, which involves regular sampling at our reservoirs, treatment works and customers’ taps. Thanks to these efforts, our water consistently meets the tough regulatory standards set by the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI).

What customers and stakeholders have told us

In recent conversations, the majority of our customers and stakeholders told us they are satisfied with the quality of their water supply.

Feedback included:

  • Customers and stakeholder want reassurance that there will always be enough water to meet demand, especially in the face of climate change
  • Investing in a reliable water supply is high on customers’ list of priorities
  • High quality water that tastes great is important to our business and domestic customers
  • Business customers who rely on an uninterrupted supply of water are keen to see a greater focus on guaranteeing supplies
  • We have an important education role to play, from teaching school children about the water cycle to encouraging households and businesses to become more water efficient
  • What else can we expect a water company to do apart from provide water and take care of it?

    Customer

What we’ll achieve

Safe, clean drinking water

We’ll ensure our drinking water is safe and clean, preventing the need for our customers to contact us about the colour, taste or smell of their tap water.

A reliable water service

We’ll ensure we have enough water for future generations, using sustainable sources. We’ll avoid interruptions to supply, manage leakage, prevent low pressure and safeguard our supplies.

Our proposals for the next 25 years:

Key
Service improvement
Maintaining service

The focus will be on:

Ensuring water sources are resilient for future generations

We currently benefit from a lot of rain in the North West, so the risk of drought in our region is lower than it is for
some other parts of the country. We plan for the possibility of water demand restrictions (hosepipe bans or temporary abstraction powers to take more water from the environment, such as drought permits) occurring no more than once than once every 35 years.

In recent years, we have invested in making our network more integrated, so that we can move water around the
region to areas that need it most in drier weather.

One of our main areas of focus in the years to come will be on finding alternative water supplies for West Cumbria, an area which will no longer be able to rely on its current local water sources due to the need to further protect environmentally sensitive habitats. More details can be found on our customer website.

Tackling leakage

We have met or beaten our Ofwat-agreed leakage target for the last seven years thanks to the efforts of our leakage detection teams, investment in a sophisticated monitoring and control system which analyses flow and pressure data across the network and use of a freephone number to enable our customers to report leaks to us. In the years to come we will continue our work to keep leakage at the current economically sustainable level, by fixing bursts and addressing leakage where it makes economic sense to do so. We have done extensive research with our customers on this subject and they have given their support to this approach.

Taking ownership of customers’ supply pipes

A significant proportion of leaks occur in pipes on our customers’ properties. We support the potential transfer of responsibility for customers’ supply pipes to us in the future. If we owned these pipes, we’d be able to tackle leakage more effectively. We see this as a long-term, cost-effective solution, similar to the way in which we have adopted private sewers and how we are set to adopt private pumping stations in the coming years.

Promoting water efficiency

Whatever the weather, we will continue to promote greater water efficiency and encourage our customers to view water as a valuable commodity, not a limitless resource. We’ll do this by targeting customers of all ages through our education and engagement programmes. Water efficiency makes sound environmental sense and economic sense for bill payers.

Water trading

Historically, around 5-10 per cent of the UK’s water has been traded between suppliers, but this could change considerably over the next 25 years. In future years, there may be an opportunity to trade water with other regions that have less resilient reserves. We propose to actively pursue water trading opportunities as long as they provide benefits to our customers and do not increase their bills.

Keeping interruptions to a minimum

To reduce the inconvenience suffered by customers as a result of poor supply or interruptions to supply, we will continue to take a proactive approach to resolve problems before they impact our customers. We’ll also be speedy and efficient when interruptions do happen.

Maintaining drinking water quality

Our water quality compliance is high, at 99.96 per cent in 2014. Aiming for 100 per cent water quality may perhaps sound like an obvious objective – but the cost of attaining a perfect score would be expensive. Customers and stakeholders have told us they are satisfied with their drinking water quality and that they don’t want to pay more for improvements. Going forward, we’ll only seek improvements that don’t drive up customers’ bills.

Maintaining the taste, colour and smell of the water

Around 1% of our customer contacts are about the taste or smell of drinking water. Although this is relatively small we will continue to reduce the number of water quality incidents affecting our customers by ‘fine tuning’ the way we operate and maintain our existing assets. In some specific cases we will invest in upgrading our treatment facilities to ensure standards reach the levels expected by our customers and stakeholders.

Looking after existing assets

The North West’s water network has benefited from major investment since privatisation and is one of the youngest in the UK. Therefore, customers are not burdened with the cost of building new assets. In the years to come, we’ll focus on maintaining the network we already have.