The Water Bill – Upstream Services

Reform of the water market – the new UK Water Bill and provision of Upstream Services

The purpose of the Water Bill is to help reform the water industry to make it more innovative and responsive to customers and to increase its resilience to natural hazards such as drought and floods. Parliament is now considering the bill which was published on 27 June 2013.

Wilsham Consulting has been providing input to the process. Of particular focus is reform of OFWATs role from passive benchmarking to taking a more active role of introducing competition  and maintaining standards and auditing a representative number of projects.

Inefficient frameworks have been used in the Water Industry AMP periods for years without the necessary step change in efficiency occurring. Such systems restrict the competitive process and limit innovation.  Ever larger and longer frameworks in the UK Water Sector have restricted the competitive process to only a handful of major consultants. The focus therefore shifted from providing quality managed Engineering solutions to mass producing conservative reports or questionable accuracy.

Wilsham as a small, dynamic cost and effective design practice are keen to work with potential providers who wish to exploit the considerable opportunities which will be opened up by the provision of “Upsteam Services”.

The bill will include measures to deal with the availability and affordability of flood insurance, following a public consultation on the proposed approach.

The measures included in the bill:

  • increasing choice in the retail market by allowing all business, charity and public sector customers to switch their water and sewerage supplier (and establishing a cross-border market with Scotland). Wilsham are keen to work with businesses who want independent help in considering this option.
  • making it much easier for new businesses to enter the water market to provide new sources of water or sewerage treatment services, known as “upstream” services. Wilsham as one of the foremost independent water engineering consultants in the UK are keen to provide upstream design services.
  • the bill may making it easier for water companies to buy and sell water from each other  and afford some better level of national security
  • encouraging development of small-scale water storage, by making it easier for owners of small-scale water storage to sell excess water into the supply system. Are you a client considering entering this new market.  Do you need independent advice?
  • it will hopefully be easier for developers and inset appointees to connect new developments to the water mains and sewerage system, where supported by professional independent water designs.

The bill may also:

  • take action to tackle unsustainable abstraction by changing the way water company schemes to restore sustainable abstraction are funded
  • improve the co-ordination between water resource management and drought planning
  • provide enabling powers to further streamline the environmental permitting framework by including three more licensing schemes – abstraction and impounding licensing, fish pass approvals and flood defence consents – subject to public consultation.
  • encourage the use of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) by clarifying that building and maintenance of SuDS can be a function of sewerage undertakers. Wilsham Consulting as a leading supplier of SuDS designs are keen to assist with this role.
  • reduce bureaucracy relating to the governance of Internal Drainage Boards