In December 2011, a long awaited Water White Paper (“Water for Life”) was published that proposed a number of important market reforms in the water sector in England. These included fully opening the business retail market to competition, and a number of abstraction and upstream reforms. These changes are underpinned by potential legislation, expected to be published in draft in 2012; the enactment date is uncertain but looks likely to be in 2013/14.
Water for Life describes a vision for future water management in which the water sector is resilient, in which water companies are more efficient and customer focused, and in which water is valued as the precious and finite resource that it is.
What are the key reforms?
- Introduce a reformed water abstraction regime over the long term;
- Propose changes to deal with the legacy of over-abstraction of our rivers;
- Catchment approach to dealing with water quality and wider environmental issues;
- Clearer guidance to water companies on planning for the long-term, and keeping demand down;
- Consulting on the introduction of national standards and a new planning approval system for sustainable drainage;
- Solutions to address the historical unfairness of high bills in the South West; and
- Encouraging water companies to introduce social tariffs to support vulnerable customers.
Our involvement in the water sector has centred on our expertise in the design and operation of industry processes, codes, multi-party agreements and systems required to support competitive retail markets.