Excerpts from THE WATER REPORT
May 2022 issue 82
FULL STORIES AVAILABLE ONLY IN THE MAGAZINE IN PRINT AND PDF
CONTENTS full contents of the magazine
REPORT Cost of living v green ambitions.
INDUSTRY COMMENT SRC21 challenged by cost of living pressures.
REPORT Operational resilience monitoring and long term strategies.
REPORT Customer priorities are close to home.
NEWS REVIEW New CEOs for UU and Yorkshire.
INTERVIEW Nick Mills, Southern Water’s Storm Overflow Task Force lead.
NEWS REVIEW Lib Dem Sewage Bill.
INDUSTRY COMMENT The SPS and the aquatic environment.
INDUSTRY COMMENT Cooperatives for ecosystem services.
FEATURE SES plans public benefit at Bough Beech.
INTERVIEW Carly Perry, Spring’s first MD.
REPORT Breakthrough winners and consultation.
REPORT RAPID’s Gate 2 guidance.
FEATURE Water Direct takes a new direction.
NEWS REVIEW NIC on surface water flooding.
NEWS REVIEW Scottish Labour demands a water charge cut.
Meanwhile, Emmott noted that recent CCW research has delivered “mixed messages” on what customers want and are prepared to pay for. And that this is not a short term pinch point.
“Regulatory strength over the last 30 years has been consistency and predictability. Demand for quality investment came from legislation, was well-telegraphed and could be planned for over a longer period. If you look at what's happened in the last two years alone, the demand for CSO investment comes from a very different source, effectively citizen regulation, empowered by access to the industry's own performance data. Now this is a dynamic which does not respect neat five year periods.
The regulatory settlement has been brushed aside, with Scottish Water reversing its decision to impose a CPI+2% rise and instead sticking to the October inflation rate. This was an entirely predictable reality, with Scottish Water wholly owned by the Scottish government.
Priorities and preferences
According to the Preferences report, undertaken for CCW and Ofwat by Yonder, customers consider water company activities that will affect them personally and directly as most important – with service aspects with immediate impact a higher priority than those with consequences in a more distant future.
The research was commissioned to understand what matters to customers and how far this is reflected in the common Performance Commitments being considered for water companies at PR24.
Customers ranked 24 water company activities for importance and impact. Most were derived from Ofwat’s draft common PC list, but affordability, resilience and fairness were added in after being spontaneously mentioned by participants.
The results put the likes of supply interruptions and the appearance of water as a higher customer priority than issues like biodiversity, carbon and pollution. Customers put storm overflows – soon to be the subject of multi-billion pound spending under government policy – in the lowest category for importance and impact.
The task force
Having a dedicated team shows Southern does not underestimate
the issue. Mills says the idea was hatched last summer, and is driven right from the top. Chief executive Ian McAulay “absolutely sees now is the time to act” says Mills, and is “incredibly supportive”.
He points out too that words have been backed up by “real support” from the top, including an insistence on frequent reporting. Moreover, the storm overflows issue was the “first or second question” asked by new owner, Macquarie, which Mills says was “great from a new investor”. He adds Macquarie is “on a mission” to help Southern rebuild its reputation.
SES has teamed up with the estate’s neighbour to the east, Bore Place, and is working closely with Sevenoaks District Council, to pursue the goal. Kelly says SES and Bore Place’s objectives are “very, very similar”.
While one is focused on water and the other food production, there is commonality in terms of the pursuit of sustainability, biodiversity and climate resilience, plus of course water and agriculture are inherently linked. The partnership expects in time that other farmers with adjacent land might get involved too.
The effort has been impressive, turning concept into reality in a few months. Perry reflects that this has been a “truly a sector-wide effort,” with the Spring team supported by water companies, supply chain companies and academics to mobilise.
The Spring website shows the large number of stakeholders that have been involved to date. Now the basics are in place, Spring has sensibly formed a strategic advice panel of experts and stakeholder representatives. This will enable it to keep in touch with and take a steer from diverse interests, without incurring the high resource cost of engaging directly with so many parties on an ongoing basis.
MOSL commended Affinity, United Utilities, Portsmouth and Anglian for scoring 8.0 or above in one or more subcategory, and United Utilities for the largest improvement, with its rating for ‘Effectiveness of systems and notifications’ increasing by 1.18.
More generally, MOSL said there were increases in average ratings across all subcategories. The biggest increase was seen in ‘Effectiveness of financial policies’ and ‘Level of communication during incidents,’ both increasing by 0.3.
The investigation followed complaints that Thames had:
• installed smart meters that were incompatible with data logging devices used by retailers and third-party providers;
• removed other parties' data logging devices when replacing meters with new digital smart meters; and
• failed to offer access to data from its smart meters to retailers and third-party providers on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.