Water firms back CC Water data reports but counsel caution on comparisons

Water companies broadly support CC Water's collection and publication of performance and other data on the industry but call for caution when comparing information that is not always like for like according to sector responses to a recent consultation.

In a report by CC Water on responses from 11 water and water and sewerage firms to the consumer watchdog's plans to continue its publication of data it said companies:​

  • were supportive of its plans to continue to collect comparative data, and make this publlically available;

  • were supportive of its proposals to "monitor comparative, customer-facing and high reward performance commitments"; and

  • "stressed the need for caution to be taken when comparing performance commitments as they are not always like for like".

Responses in the CC Water report included supportive and qualifying statements including a repeated emphasis on the unaudited nature of the quarterly data published by CC Water.

"We accept the quarterly reporting principle, although the main point is that at the quarterly reporting stage the information has not been audited and is therefore subject to change," wrote one firm.

While most companies said providing quarterly data to CC water presented little or no added burden there were suggestions that data collection could be better aligned with company reporting schedules. "CCWater should consider whether it is still necessary to collect this information on a quarterly basis through the operational report, or whether, in order to reduce the administrative burden on companies, it would be more appropriate to obtain the information on a on a different timescale in line with other reporting commitments," said one respondent.

"This is particularly applicable in respect of leakage data where reporting leakage on a six-monthly basis without completion of complex water balance gap calculations and detailed assurance may be misleading," the respondent added.

"The administrative burden could be eased through a more flexible approach to quarterly reporting where company performance timeframes are taken into consideration," said another company.

One firm saw significant benefits arising from CC Water reporting to its operations and those of the rest of the industry. It said: "Our quarterly performance report to CCWater provides a useful reconciliation of data at the end of each quarter and a good basis for discussion at the corresponding performance meeting.

"We gain valuable insight on the performance of other water companies from the annual report and we also value seeing the performance reports of the other water companies within our region each quarter. We would suggest this quarterly data share could be extended to all the water companies."

The consultation set out, and sought comments on, CC Water's proposals to:

  • continue to collect the same information from companies quarterly;

  • continue to publish its comparative annual Delving into Water report;

  • use publically available information to help it to monitor companies’ progression against their ODIs and PCs; and

  • work with Ofwat on ways to show a comparative analysis against ODIs and PCs.

CC Water received responses from Affinity, Dŵr Cymru, Northumbrian, Portsmouth, Severn Trent, Southern, South East, South Staffs, South West, Thames, and Wessex.