Our proposals for the next 25 years:
- 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.
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.
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.