2017 In The UK Water Industry So Far

Posted on by Watershed Issues Team

2017 in UK water industry

We’re only one month into 2017, and yet there have already been many developments, announcements and reports published which will have a huge impact on the UK water industry – amidst much speculation for what they will mean for the future. Here, we signpost you to the latest news and views in the UK water industry.

What do you think is forming the most pressing news in industry right now? Let us know on Twitter (@WatershedIssues)


Facing Global Uncertainty

2016 saw global events that few could have predicted, and many are speculating that this year there’ll be more of the same. For the UK Water Industry, this means concerns about infrastructure funding, investment in research, international trade and environmental regulation.

Leading trade association for the industry, British Water, carried out a survey of its members in the last quarter of 2016, which saw 20% feeling “highly pessimistic”, while 38% said it was “too early to say”.

Since then, Government has been taking measures to reassure, including outlining plans that will see infrastructure investment “reach record high”.


The Open Water Market

Everyone in industry seems to be talking about it, but many businesses are still in the dark about what the changes will mean for them – or indeed, about the changes at all.

This year, there’s going to be a £300k awareness campaign to tackle this before the market change comes into effect in April. The measure of success for this initiative has been much discussed, but doesn’t seem to be finalised as yet.


Climate change informing long-term goals more than ever

In early 2017, 2016 was confirmed as the hottest year on record, setting a new high for the third year in a row.

Following on from this data released by the UK Met Office (amongst other key agencies), the stage has very readily been set for the UK water industry to work on how it adapts to the evolving challenge, and how it reduces its own carbon footprint.

DEFRA’s 2017 climate change risk assessment, too, focused on improving flood defences, and securing water supplies.


Technology in industry

As with most other industries, the UK water industry is adapting to the new challenges and opportunities that the latest technologies bring. Critically for the water industry, technology could help to reduce time and cost associated with very necessary works. What’s more, it harks back to the ever-pressing argument that the industry as a whole needs to be more adaptable and agile in the face of increasing challenges.

Case in point: Anglian Water has trialled drone technology to help it with the behemoth task of maintaining almost 24,000 miles of rural water pipelines. Preliminary trials have already saved the utility time and money by finding and fixing hard-to-spot leaks.

It has long been argued that technology needs to be embraced in order to successfully square up to the challenges with which we find ourselves presented.



These are broad and expansive topics that we are facing up to as an industry. It can hardly escape notice that the thing that ties these seemingly independent issues is the use of the word ‘challenge’, which is littered throughout the articles and opinion pieces to which we link. That is something that is being faced across countless industries and disciplines, so the current climate is screaming out for collaboration and continuous learning. But, as they say, with great challenge comes great opportunity!

How do you feel about the year we’re facing in industry? Any other developments that should have made the list? Let us know on Twitter (@WatershedIssues)

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