Waterwise urges Ofwat to ensure usage cuts get enough price control funding
Waterwise has called on Ofwat to ensure water company programmes to deliver per capita consumption (PCC)
reductions are adequately funded in the PR19 final determinations.
The water efficiency NGO welcomed Ofwat’s draft determination challenge to eight water companies to go further on reducing PCC, noting this would realise around a 6% reduction across the sector in AMP7, compared to forecast PCC levels in 2019-20. However it said targets should be achievable as well as stretching.
To that end, Waterwise pointed out: “We are concerned that cost efficiency challenges faced by some companies, combined with related management decisions, could result in scaling back of water efficiency programmes. In particular there is a risk of reductions in levels of planned engagement with customers on personal water consumption and, related to this, in the roll-out of smart meters.
“Whilst we accept that the use of a PCC common outcome measure with rewards and penalties does negate this to some extent, we urge Ofwat to pay particular attention to any changes to these important public-facing programmes. Management decisions within companies will be crucial to the delivery of stretch PCC targets set by Ofwat, in the face of these efficiency challenges. For example, in some companies it may require a doubling in size of water efficiency and metering programmes.”
Waterwise also pointed out that reducing consumption will to some extent be reliant on factors outside water companies’ control, “such as government action on mandatory water labelling and minimum standards for water fittings in new and existing homes”. It further noted relevant policy development is currently underway, including through Defra’s personal water use consultation (which Waterwise urged Ofwat to respond to) and through the Environment Agency’s work on developing a National Framework including demand side expectations.