News

Who are the water industry regulators and what do they do?

Water industry regulators - H2O Building Services

 

Who are the water industry regulators and what do they do?

 

OFWAT – The Economic Water Regulator – What is OFWATS’ Job?

 

In their own words “To make sure that your water company provides you with a good quality service at a fair price”

 

How does OFWAT do this?

In a number of ways, for example it tries to ensure water companies keep bills as low as reasonably possible. In assessing bills OFWAT recognises that water companies incur significant operational costs and must invest in the infrastructure to ensure it is in a fit state for future generations.

 

What is OFWAT’s strategy?

OFWAT sets out three strategic goals

 

  1. To transform water companies performance for customers
  2. To drive water companies to meet long term challenges
  3. For water companies to serve a wider public purpose, delivering more for customers, society and the environment 

 

The Drinking Water Inspectorate – What is the job of the DWI?

 

The Drinking Water Inspectorate or (DWI) is a section of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) its a role to ensure our water is fit to drink.

The DWI provides independent scrutiny of water companies activities, it publishes statistics on the water quality and enforces UK water quality legislation.

 

The Environment Agency – What is the job of the E.A?

 

The Environment Agency (E.A) is an executive none departmental public body responsible to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Its main aim is environmental protection.

Water companies have a key part to play in achieving that goal.

The interaction between the E.A and water companies covers many areas including: –

 

  1. Water resource management and drought planning.
  2. Water abstraction licensing
  3. Disposal of sludge from waste water treatment processes.
  4. Monitoring of bathing beaches and bathing water quality. 

 

The Consumer Council for Water – What is the job of  CCW ?

The Consumer Council for Water (CCW) is another departmental body.

It is not an official regulator but does have a role representing domestic and none domestic customers interests.

Helping customers with complaints and offers impartial advice on water issues.

Importantly CCW is independent from the water companies and not regulated to OFWAT or any other regulatory body.

It also have no powers of enforcement.

 

Scotland and Northern Ireland.

 

Scotland and Northern Ireland things work in a slightly different way. The aims are similar with different bodies involved.

The market structure and water company ownership in Scotland is different from those in England and Wales .

The main water company is Scottish Water which is a public corporation directly accountable to the Scottish Parliament.

It has production, treatment and delivery responsibilities for water across the whole country.

Domestic customers are billed direct and business customers have a competitive market as the none domestic  market was deregulated. In fact it was the first country in the world to deregulate its water market in 2008 allowing none domestic customers to switch water supplier  to various licensed providers. Thus reducing their water bills in a competitive market so customers can choose their water supplier.

The main supplier in Scotland was Business Stream  which is actually part of the Scottish Water group but is a legally separate company.

 

The economic regulator for the Scottish water market is the Water Industry Commission for Scotland (WICS).

The bodies that work along side WICS are – The Drinking Water Quality Regulator

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)

Consumer Futures which represents consumer interests

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman who investigates complaints (SPSO)

 

In Northern Ireland there is just one water company – Northern Ireland Water but several regulators

 

The Utility Regulator which performs the role of economic regulator

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) which looks after environmental issues

The Drinking Water Inspectorate who is responsible for regulating drinking water quality.