• Everyone should have clean, safe, top quality drinking water.

    It’s a clear choice - water companies are Working4Water.

  • Everyone should have clean, safe, top quality drinking water.

    It’s a clear choice - water companies are Working4Water.

Latest News: The New Statesman, in association with Water UK, hosted an event titled Public vs Private: Is the water industry working for consumers and the environment? Read more here.

Our Story

Water UK represents and works with the major water and wastewater service providers. We are Working4Water.

Our Mission

Thirty years ago, the water industry in England and Wales was in a bad way. Owned and run by the state, starved of funding, failing to deliver a good service, and damaging the environment.

Since being brought under private ownership in 1989, there’s been a remarkable turnaround in this vital public service, delivering major results for customers and the environment.

Our mission is to provide customers and communities with world-class services, enhancing the UK’s quality of life.

Share on social media

Keeping life flowing

Water companies take water from rivers or from underground natural reservoirs, clean it up using state of the art treatment, ensuring that it is of the highest standard before it is pumped to homes and businesses.

When waste-water is taken away, it is done so carefully, with companies doing whatever they can to protect the environment.

58,000 staff work day in day out to deliver this crucial public service, and create an excellent product – drinking water of the highest quality – to keep life in our country flowing smoothly.

A Manifesto for Water

The water industry in England has set out an ambitious new vision for the 2020s with the publication of a Manifesto for Water.

It reveals plans for a major investment programme in services, a significant cut in leakage, an overall real-term reduction in bills, and a big increase in help for people who struggle to pay. It also includes a new programme for helping the environment which will see 8000 km of rivers cleaned and improved. More than £50 billion is planned to be spent on improving services, which represents a 13% increase on the previous 5-year business period.

The Manifesto for Water is available here.

Water UK’s full press release is available here.

New Statesman Event

The New Statesman, in association with Water UK, hosted an event titled Public vs Private: Is the water industry working for consumers and the environment?

Discussions focused on the water sector, assessing the effects of three decades of a private ownership model in England, reflecting on the current public and policy debate on nationalisation.

Panel

Luke Pollard MP (Shadow Water Minister) joined the panel discussion, chaired by Jon Bernstein (Former Editor, New Statesman) alongside Scott Corfe (Chief Economist, Social Market Foundation) and Michael Roberts (Chief Executive, Water UK).

2

The audience of around 50 figures from across the sector included Rachel Fletcher (Chief Executive, Ofwat) and Jonson Cox (Chair, Ofwat).

3

Luke Pollard MP took the first major opportunity since the Labour Party conference for a member of the Shadow Defra team to speak in some detail about the proposals in Clear Water, Labour’s plans for nationalising the water industry in England.

4

Michael Roberts challenged Labour proposals, saying they were quiet on how they would maintain and improve outcomes for customers and the environment; drawing attention to the industry’s ambitious plans for the future.

5

The event provided an opportunity for a wide range of stakeholders to discuss the future of the water sector.

6

Despite the sector’s achievements, there was a keen recognition that there is still much more to be done to improve services even further.

7

The industry stated its intention to illustrate its work for consumers and keep customers at the heart of everything they do.

8

Attendees were provided with a copy of the New Statesman, including a Water UK supplement on the future of the water sector.

Water UK Parliamentary Reception 2018

Water UK held a well-attended summer reception in the House of Commons, which provided a welcome informal opportunity for parliamentarians and figures across the water sector to discuss topical issues. The event was sponsored by the EFRA Select Committee Chair, Neil Parish MP who also gave a short speech along with APPG Water Co-chair, Angela Smith MP, and Water UK Chief Executive, Michael Roberts.
1. Michael Roberts

Michael Roberts, Water UK Chief Executive, spoke about the risks involved in any move to nationalise the water industry, with investment, service improvements, environmental standards and low bills all under threat.

2. Angela Smith MP

Angela Smith MP, Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Water, told the reception that we need to engage customers in the drive to use less water and that politicians should focus on getting the job done, not on models of ownership.

3. Neil Parish MP

Neil Parish MP, EFRA Select Committee Chair, spoke about the vital need to protect our environment, and praised the industry-backed Refill scheme, aimed at cutting down plastic bottle use by millions.

New image

The speakers shared their wider thoughts on the current and future issues facing the water sector. There was a common thread that collaboration and partnership working is and will continue to be vital.

5. Refill bottles

Free Water UK drinking water bottles were available for all attendees to promote Refill and the benefits of refilling with high-quality drinking water from the tap.

6. Discussions 1

The event provided an opportunity for a wide range of stakeholders and parliamentarians to discuss the future of the sector.

7. Annual Review

Catherine McKinnell, Labour Party MP for Newcastle upon Tyne North, reads Water UK’s Annual Review 2017/18, which is available online.

8. Discussions 2

Despite the sector’s achievements, there was a keen recognition that there is still much more to be done on delivering for customers, environmental improvement and transparency.

What’s been achieved?

What's been achieved since private ownership
A quid a day – trusted to deliver

The average water and sewerage bill in England and Wales is currently £405 a year, just over a pound a day1. That’s the delivery of water, the removal of your sewage, and the protection of the environment for the same cost as half a cup of high street coffee.

Com Res2 polling suggests that 83% of people trust their water company overall, and that 89% of people trust their water company to provide a reliable wastewater service and a good quality of water. Although trust is high, the water industry understands its role in providing an essential public service and continues to work to improve trust and confidence even further.

86%

of people trust their water company overall

89%

of people trusted their water company to provide good quality of water

87%

of people trusted their water company to provide a reliable service

86%

of people trusted their water company to take away sewage and deal with it responsibly

77%

of people trusted their water company to fix water pipe leaks

74%

of people trusted their water company to pay an appropriate amount of tax

75%

of people trusted their water company to protect and improve the environment

68%

of people trusted their water company to invest a sufficient amount of money in the water network

68%

of people trusted their water company to provide value for money

The worth of water
Increased investment and productivity

Water companies in England and Wales have spent around £150 billion improving pipes, pumping stations, sewers and treatment centres, and it continues to spend around £8 billion3 a year to keep on improving. That’s enough money invested to build Wembley Stadium 150 times, and enough ongoing investment to buy a new car every single minute.

Investment is now at roughly double pre-privatisation rates and is money that would not have been available under public ownership, especially during times of austerity.

The water industry’s productivity has increased by 64% since 19944 – better than the economy as a whole and broadly matching comparator sectors, even on the most conservative assumptions.

The worth of water
A more reliable service

Customers are now 5 times less likely to suffer from supply interruptions, 8 times less likely to suffer from sewer flooding, and 100 times less likely to have low water pressure5.

Water companies have reduced leakage by a third since the 1990s, and it continues to be a top priority6.

Water quality has improved dramatically – companies now deliver drinking water that passes 99.9% of quality assurance tests7.  In the early 1990s, 1.5% to 2% of samples across the UK failed the tests8.

5

times less likely to suffer from supply interruptions

8

times less likely to suffer from sewer flooding

100

times less likely to have low water pressure

Super Supply
Looking after our environment

By 2020, water companies will have invested around £25 billion into environmental work, putting in more advanced treatment methods to improve the quality of rivers and canals for example. This action will mean around 10000 miles of UK rivers have been improved and protected since 19929.

The water industry has invested well over £2.5 billion since the 1990s to protect UK bathing waters10. As a result of this investment, two thirds of UK beaches are now classed as excellent, compared with less than a third 25 years ago11.

The Refill drinking water initiative that Water UK announced in January is aimed help to cut plastic bottle use by tens of millions each year. By creating a national network of refill stations where people can top up their reusable water bottles for free, public access to drinking water will be greatly increased12.

A flourishing environment
Strong customer satisfaction and customer help

Customer satisfaction levels for water and sewerage services are around 90%, and satisfaction for water supply services has been consistently very high for the past five years, with more than 9 out of ten consumers satisfied13.

The number of customers receiving help from water companies to pay their bills has risen by 93% in the past year according to the industry’s consumer watchdog, CC Water14.

What can you get for a quid a day?

Plans for the future

Water companies will invest £44 billion in England and Wales between 2015-2020 – that’s about
£2,500 per property. This will go towards15:

  • Saving more than 370 million litres a day by tackling leakage and promoting water efficiency – enough saved to serve all of the homes in Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds
  • 4,700 fewer properties flooded by sewer water
  • Cleaner water at more than 50 beaches
  • Helping around 1.8 million people to pay their bill by 2020

Bills rose immediately after private ownership reflecting the need to invest, but they are now broadly at the same level at 1994 after inflation. Between 2015 and 2020, they will go down by an average of 5% in real terms and are projected to fall even further in the future16.

Under state ownership, the water industry would face competition for funding from vital sectors including education and healthcare. Funding for these sectors needs to be prioritised, yet the cost of nationalising the industry has been estimated at £86 to £90 billion, which is enough alone to fund every NHS workers’ wage twice-over17. That’s a considerable amount of money for the government to spend unnecessarily.

Supporting communities

Water companies play an important role in local communities – contributing to our daily lives in ways that go far beyond our water services.

Managing
flood risk

Water companies provide essential services and look after vital infrastructure such as sewers. Making sure this network can cope with extreme weather is all part of company planning.

Creating
renewable energy

Water services demand large amounts of energy so companies try to develop renewable energy sources where they can - to reduce consumption and cut harmful emissions.

Supporting
the environment

Wildlife rely on the water environment for their natural habitats. In sharing this environment to supply our water services, water companies work with economic regulators, wildlife organisations and researchers to measure impacts, protect and improve the environment.

Improving
public health

Water is an essential nutrient vital for our health and hydration. Water’s role in improving public health is important especially given the rising problems of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay as it provides a natural alternative to soft or sugary drinks.

Supporting
tourism

Water companies’ own sites of stunning beauty that can be enjoyed by everyone. Where possible, companies use their sites to create leisure and education opportunities for local communities and to spur economic growth through tourism.

Building
skills and education

Companies invest in training their workforce and provide hundreds of apprenticeships a year and provide wider education through visitor centres and programmes to raise awareness of the water cycle and the need for water conservation.

FAQs

A quick Q&A

Find Out More

back to top