At a Westminster reception last night, Glas Cymru celebrated its 15th anniversary since setting up as a not-for-profit company and acquiring Welsh Water.
Chief executive and founding finance director Chris Jones (pictured) told the meeting, hosted by secretary of state for Wales Alun Cairns, that “Across the board, there is a lot to be proud of…but also plenty plenty more to do.” Cairns volunteered that the innovative nature of the company – it was the first and remains the only not-for-profit water company – gave him cause for “questions, even a bit of scepticism” initially but that the initiative managed to gain cross party support and its subsequent achievements are cause for “great celebration”.
The following are among the achievements cited by the company:
• Customers. Welsh Water is placed second in the SIM league and leading in a Consumer Council for Water customer survey released this week.
• Compliance. Huge progress has been made in many areas since 2001, including health and safety (40 accidents in 2001; 20 this year); annual pollution incidents down from 351-112; leakage down 248-180Ml/d; and drinking water quality up 99.76-99.98%.
• Costs. Operating costs are down 7.2%, while all other companies have seen operating cost increases.
• Community. 55,000 customers on assistance tariffs, with another 45,000 targeted by 2020.
• Bills. Lower in real terms than in 2001, with sub inflationary rises each year. This year £32m was returned to customers in the form of service improvements, assistance schemes, renewable energy investment and the development of leisure facilities.
• Investment. £1.4bn in water and £2.3bn in wastewater. Forty seven Welsh beaches have Blue Flag status, up from 18 in 2001.
• Gearing. Down from c90% to c60% today.
Jones stressed the company would not rest on its laurels but pursue further improvements across this AMP and beyond.