Waterscan cleans up on self supply with Berendsen

Industrial laundry Berendsen has become the latest business to apply for a self supply licence in partnership with Waterscan. Berendsen operates 32 sites, most are healthcare, hospitality and workwear laundries, while four are sterile instrument sites. All require large volumes of water and produce large volumes of trade effluent. Ofwat reported the company had been active already on water management: all sites have some form of water reclaim system in place and the firm holds the Carbon Trust Water Standard, alongside the Carbon Trust Standard. Ofwat added: “Self-supply for Berendsen provides an opportunity to build on the works already undertaken and further develop the partnership with Wa

Retailers with insurance win access to unsecured credit

Retailers with appropriate Trade Credit Insurance (TCI) in place will be able to access an Unsecured Credit Allowance (UCA) from tomorrow (31 July) after Ofwat accepted a Code Panel recommendation on alternative eligible credit support. The Water Retail Company proposed the change, arguing that the forms of credit support currently prescribed in the Codes are not commercially viable for retailers who do not have a credit history or access to a Parent Company Guarantee. Ofwat noted: “It has been suggested that this is a material issue which discourages or potentially prevents small retailers from entering the market. If a new entrant is unable to gain access to UCA then the combination of Eli

Advisor report calls for 110-litre daily standard and SuDS for new builds

Recommendations on water efficiency, personal consumption and sustainable drainage featured in the Environmental Audit Committee’s Heatwaves report, published last week. The committee told the government to adopt 110 litres per person per day as the mandatory standard in Part G of the building regulations for all new buildings, and to embed a water saving culture to reduce demand during heatwaves. It pointed out: “The urban heat island effect results in water stressed areas experiencing increased demand for water during heatwaves. It is expected that there will be less water available per person in the future. Regardless, the government has weakened its water efficiency ambitions and has ove

WICS publishes first SRC21 decision papers

The Water Industry Commission for Scotland has published the first three of a series of Decision Papers that will underpin its Strategic Review of Charges 2021-27 for Scottish Water. This first paper sets out the Commission’s views on Scottish Water’s Strategic Projections which were published in February 2018, including the relative impact on prices of the various inputs to the price review. This second sets out the Commission’s views on the appropriate macroeconomic inputs to use in a Strategic Plan and on the likely growth in the customer base over the regulatory control period. This third 2018 Decision Paper sets out the Commission’s thoughts on the investment planning and prioritisation

CCW tells firms to be more than “silent providers” as customer perception stalls

Water companies should take decisive action to boost unimpressive levels of customer satisfaction with fairness and value for money, according to a report by the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater). The water watchdog’s latest annual Water Matters survey shows that while 9 out of 10 customers are satisfied with their water and sewerage services, only 6 in10 agree that their charges are fair -– a figure that has remained static for seven years. It said perceptions of fairness are strongly influenced by customer experience. Those customers who think charges are unfair are more likely to have made cont act with their water company in the past 12 months, and are also less likely to recommend th

Ofwat chair’s “regulatory corporatism likely to fail” warns leading economist

“If the incumbents really want to head off the Corbyn attack, and to end the slide towards it that Cox’s approach may exacerbate, they need to get serious about competition.” So said, leading regulatory economist, Dieter Helm in a new paper, Who owns the water companies? Helm (pictured) described Ofwat chair Jonson Cox’s strategy to influence company gearing and dividend policies as an attempt “to attenuate the control of the owners” – an attempt he speculated would not be successful and may even make matters worse. “The Cox strategy is likely to fail. So far, as the latest round of announcements on dividends and salaries has indicated, the companies are not taking much notice. Indeed the mo

Credit rating for Thames debt falls after "subdued" performance

Credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings (S&P) has revised its outlook for Thames Water’s debt from stable to negative in a reflection of the firm’s “largely subdued” performance and current financial pressures. S&P, in its research update warned Thames’ “relatively high leverage… limits its ability to absorb any future additional weakening in profitability.” The agency said it “notes positively the strong reduction in dividend distribution and the long-term build-up of regulated capital value,” but it went on to add: “higher indexation of inflation-linked debt instruments stemming from higher inflation rates and below-average operational performance” had increased pressure o

Southern joins accredited entity scheme

Southern Water has joined six other water wholesalers as a member of Lloyd's Register’s Water Industry Accredited Entity (WIRSAE) scheme that allows retailers, operating in a wholesaler’s area, the opportunity to undertake temporary disconnections and reconnections in line with the market codes and the requirements of the scheme. To carry out those disconnections and reconnections, a retailer or its nominated service provider needs to be certified as an accredited entity in the Wholesale Retail Code – WIRSAE provides that certification. The scheme is administered by Lloyd's which carries out the initial accreditation assessments, certification and on-going monitoring on behalf of the utilit

Northumbrian fined for unpermitted sewage discharges

Northumbrian Water has been fined 33,600 with costs for three unpermitted discharges of untreated sewage following an Environment Agency (EA) investigation. The discharges, included pollution, of Smithy Burn in the Tyne Valley with untreated sewage which bypassed the local sewage treatment works. Northumbrian was fined after admitting one charge of causing a discharge of untreated sewage into the burn and after two other similar offences – unpermitted discharges of sewage effluent at separate treatment works near Darlington. – were taken into consideration. The pollution at Smithy Burn originated from a storm overflow channel that the EA said had not been incorporated into the treatment work

GMB keeps up campaign for water nationalisation

The GMB union has condemned the £158m average in shareholder benefits it has calculated as paid out by England’s water companies in 2017. The average over five years was £144m according to the union. This latest reporting by the GMB of water company finances was a continuation of its bid to discredit privately owned water companies to grow support for Labour’s call to return the water sector to public ownership. Union calculated the figure as the average dividend, interest paid and interest accrued for shareholders by each privatised water company last year. The report followed close on the heels of another focusing on executive pay at the English water firms.

CMA probes Castle's Invicta acquisition for impact on competition

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched an investigation into the acquisition of Invicta Water on the grounds that the deal may decrease competition in the water retail market. In announcing the initial phase of the investigation issued last week the CMA said the completed acquisition may constitute a merger under the Enterprise Act and as such may be expected to result, in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the UK for goods or services. In an initial enforcement order issued earlier in the month the CMA said the probe was based on “reasonable grounds for suspecting that it is or may be the case that arrangements are in progress or in con

Northumbrian unveils green investment beyond national programme pledge

Northumbrian Water has pledged £2m over and above its Water Industry National Environment Programme package to fund improvements to rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs, wetlands, beaches and coastline by 2025. The investment is part of an ambitions five-year plan package to improve the environment. Other features are: By 2025, to be a leader in the sustainable use of natural resources through achieving zero avoidable waste. To be carbon neutral by 2027. Zero pollutions as a result of its operations The best beaches and rivers in the country. Group Commercial Director at Northumbrian Water, Graham Southall, said: “We are committed to looking after and improving the environment and this is demo

Prime minister confirms plan for a new Environment Bill

Prime minister, Theresa May, has confirmed the government would bring forward a new Environment Bill – the first for over 20 years. May said: “ This builds on our 25-Year Environment Plan, setting out what we are doing to improve the environment for the next generation." It will cover among other things environmental principles and governance post Brexit and air quality.

Castle slams fellow retailers on vote to defer final settlement reports

Castle Water has accused its fellow retailers of “conspiring to undermine the position of customers”. The assertion came today in a press release from Castle referring to a Code Panel vote on 16 July to defer producing final settlement reports beyond the agreed 16 months. The release reported all Panel members but Castle agreed, on the basis that remaining problems with meter reads for some meters risked incorrect charging. However, Castle argued a knock-on effect would be that customers could be back billed beyond the 16 month period, counter to Ofwat’s position on customer protection. The company said: “Castle Water considers this to be unacceptable to customers. The opening of the market

Thames hailed for upping gender diversity with one-in-three female executives

Diversity consultancy Pipeline has hailed Thames Water’s progress in appointing women to its top jobs as a “huge leap” from its earlier position that is the product of “a plan of specific interventions.” Women hold one in three of Thames’ executive committee posts. Pipeline said: “Critically, the chief executive and executive team were absolutely committed to the diversity and inclusion agenda and fully supportive of the plan Janet Burr, HR director, put in place.” Thames is working with Pipeline to improve its gender diversity. It is planning, the consultancy said, to put more females on its graduate and apprenticeship schemes while increasing the number of women in middle and senior manag

Defra publishes surface water flooding plan

Defra has published an action plan on surface water management. It sets out the steps the government is taking, with the Environment Agency and others, to manage the risk of surface water flooding. It covers a number of actions to both improve understanding of the risks and strengthen delivery. These include: improving risk assessment and communication making sure infrastructure is resilient clarifying responsibilities for surface water management joining up planning for surface water management building local authority capacity. Source: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/725664/surface-water-management-action-plan-july-2018.pdf

Shipsey jumps

Lee Shipsey, Anglian Water Business’ long-time senior leader and current sales and marketing director at Wave, is to move to Business Stream. Shipsey (pictured) will be Business Stream’s new sales and marketing director from 26 September, responsible for the leadership and direction of the sales, marketing and added value solutions teams. Jo Dow, chief executive at Business Stream, said: “We’re delighted to have appointed Lee, one of the most knowledgeable and experienced sales professionals in the retail water industry today.”

Take off for Heathrow and Affinity for business water partnership

Europe’s busiest airport, London Heathrow, has switched its sewerage supply to Affinity for Business. Under a five year deal, Affinity for Business, which already provided clean water to the Heathrow estate, will now provide both services and work with the airport in partnership on a long-term, shared commitment towards more sustainable water usage. Home to over 400 separate companies and employing over 76,000 people locally, Heathrow is one of the largest private water networks in Europe. Operating within a highly populated and water stressed area, Heathrow understands the increasing pressures on water resources. Its core priority was to work with a partner who can not only manage the clean

Drought looms for the North West as EA steps up national action

The Environment Agency has said it is preparing for drought in the North West. Last week, United Utilities announced it would impose a hosepipe ban from 5 August, affecting 7m people. The company has applied for two drought permits and one drought order, and is preparing a further three drought permits to be submitted before the end of July. The drought order is to increase abstraction from Ennerdale Water. United Utilities needs permission from DEFRA because Ennerdale feeds the River Ehen, a Special Area of Conservation. It is requesting to increase, for a period of three months, its present drawdown limit from 1.7 metres to 2.5 metres below the crest of the dam to help safeguard public wat

SES Water urges "meticulous" practices at oil exploration site

SES Water has warned oil and gas firm Europa Oil and Gas that it expects to see “meticulous operational practices in place that are adhered to at all times” at Europa’s Weald Basin oil exploration site. The exploration site at Holmwood was recently granted a mining waste permit by the Environment Agency (EA). SES Water emphasised that it had, during the permit consultation, raised concerns about risks to groundwater due to the proximity of the planned site to its abstraction points for the water supply to Dorking, Surrey and its surrounding areas. It said that while the agency deemed the likelihood of contamination to be very low, SES Water expected Europa to strengthen its documented inten