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  • by Karma Loveday

Ofwat opens enforcement case on South East Water supply resilience

Ofwat has opened an enforcement case into South East Water to investigate whether it has failed to develop and maintain an efficient water supply system.

Ofwat also shared that the Drinking Water Inspectorate on 31 October informed South East Water that it is considering taking enforcement action to secure improvements to the company’s supply system and ability to respond to incidents.

Explaining its decision to act, Ofwat cited that South East Water is the worst performer for water supply interruptions in England and Wales; in 2022-23 there was an average 3 hours, 2 minutes and 21 seconds lost per property compared with its performance commitment level of 5 minutes and 45 seconds. Moreover, the regulator categorised the company as ‘lagging behind’ in its recent Water Company Performance Report, and Ofwat has required it to publish a service commitment plan by the end of November to address several areas of underperformance, including supply interruptions.

Ofwat chief executive, David Black, commented: “Too many customers have been failed too often by South East Water.”

CCW chief executive, Mike Keil, said: “Customers’ trust and confidence in South East Water has been undermined by the company’s repeated poor handling of supply interruptions and we will do all we can to support Ofwat’s investigation. There was considerable anger and frustration among many people who felt unsupported, compounded by the company’s poor communication. Customers have a right to expect better from an essential service provider.”

South East said it would fully cooperate with the investigation and that: “Resilience forms a major focus for South East Water both now, and as a significant part of our PR24 business plan which has been submitted to Ofwat.”

• Environmental Social and Governance benchmark GRESB last week named South East Water as an infrastructure asset sector leader in sustainability in 2023. The GRESB Assessments are guided by what investors and the industry considers to be material issues in the sustainability performance of asset investments and are aligned with international reporting frameworks, goals and emerging regulations. David Hinton, South East Water chief executive, said: “Making sure we are doing the right thing for the environment and society is at the heart of our purpose at South East Water. We know this matters to our customers, communities and employees so we are delighted that our efforts have resulted in being awarded sector leader status.”


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