2017 in Review in the UK Water Industry

Posted on by Watershed Issues Team

2017 in UK water industry

This year, we’re bookending the blog with a ‘year in preview’ and this ‘year in review’ post. Here’s a run-down on the biggest events for the UK water industry in 2017.

Competition Increased in the water industry

April of this year saw one of the market reforms set out in the Water Act 2014 come into play, as Ofwat, the economic regulator of the water sector in England and Wales, allowed companies in England and Wales to choose their water utility for the first time.

However, there were reports in October that the water market cooled “just months” after competition opened, with just 2.3% of the 2.7million supply points in the market switching suppliers. Ofwat argued that the “steady rate” of switching will simply mean some busy months to come, but others argue that perhaps further work is required to ensure that more commercial organisations are aware of the fact that they have a choice of provider.

What will 2018 hold for the revolutionised water market?

Bidding began on first AMP7 Water Framework

August saw bidding start on the first AMP7 water framework, with Severn Trent prequalifying firms for the upcoming round of investment.

It’s a little too early to say what impact AMP7 will have on the industry – and what exact form it’s going to take – but general consensus is that it’s likely to focus on smart infrastructure and increasing digitisation where possible (i.e. paper-heavy manuals being replaced with less text-heavy material online).

Watch this space…

The methodology for PR19 was published

The methodology for the Price Review in 2019 (PR19) was published, to consult on the way in which Ofwat sets price controls ahead of setting final price limits in December 2019.

Clearly, work will continue during 2018 in preparation for PR19, and the broader agenda of Water 2020. Follow the hashtags #PR19 and #Water2020 on Twitter to keep up-to-date.

Fatbergs Ahoy!

In September, a so-called “Fatberg” hit the headlines, as “a congealed mass of fat, wet wipes and nappies…weighing the same as 11 double decker buses and stretching the length of two football pitches is blocking a section of London’s ageing sewage network.”

The problem gave rise to innovation, as all good problems do – for example, Thames Water explored whether such collections could be used as biofuel. As well as this, and capturing the nation’s attention through the sheer grimness of the phenomenon (and the unfortunate task of having to clear it!) the story highlighted the need to address London’s aging sewer infrastructure.

2018 will see work continue on the contentious Thames Tideway tunnel – a.k.a. London’s Super Sewer – the biggest upgrade to the capital’s sewers since their construction in the 1850s. Will this be enough to meet the capital’s needs, or will it be “a waste of about £4bn”, as critics suggest?


How do you feel about the year we’ve just had in industry? Were there any big issues we would have included? And what’re your thoughts on industry’s upcoming challenges and opportunities for 2018? Doubtless the conversation in the UK will focus heavily on Brexit’s impact on the water industry. Follow us on Twitter and keep up with the conversation (@WatershedIssues)



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