Ofwat

Latest in Ofwat

Investor concerns remain over the level of regulatory intervention in the water sector, the head of Global Investors Association, Lawrence Slade, has told an inquiry into Ofwat's powers by the House of Lords Industry and Regulators Committee. Slade called for longer term oversight to give investors assurance in the coming decades.
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Ofwat has proposed a series of measures, including new powers to prevent dividends being paid to shareholders, to address concerns over water companies' financial resilience. The regulator said the proposals are designed to prevent companies compromising their service to customers if they experience financial shocks and improve the attractiveness of the sector to investors to ensure essential infrastructure can be funded over the coming decades.
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Ofwat has added a new element to its innovation competition that will allow entries from outside the sector to bid on a pot of £4 million without being sponsored by or partnered with a water company. The announcement comes as the regulator confirms the next round of the competition will begin in the autumn and that it intends to extend the series until 2030.
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The Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) has announced its first investigation will be to determine the respective responsibilities of Defra, Ofwat and the Environment Agency with regards to the monitoring and regulation of combined sewer overflows, and whether or not they have each fulfilled their regulatory duties. The body’s chief regulatory officer Helen Venn said the probe could lead enforcement activity as well as broader actions to improve legal and regulatory systems.
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Ofwat has welcomed plans by wastewater companies to reduce harm to river water quality from combined sewer overflows but urged the sector to do more in the remaining years of AMP7 rather than waiting until the start of the next asset management period in 2025. The regulator vowed to take swift enforcement action in response to overflows triggered by unresolved operational and maintenance issues.
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A Cheshire-based utility company has applied to Ofwat for a water retail and sewerage licence to expand on its current business, which it says has already has "a large degree of overlap" with retail services. It is the first new applicant to join the water retail market since the Covid-19 pandemic.
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The water retail market operator has named the eight projects to be awarded funding from the Market Improvement Fund to bring innovation to address common challenges. Half the projects explore ways to improve water efficiency and help consumers reduce consumption against the backdrop of wider industry water resource planning.
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The House of Lords Industry and Regulators Committee has launched an inquiry into whether Ofwat is fulfilling its statutory duties and if it has the powers and resources to carry out its objectives. The committee will also examine specific issues such as sewer overflows and water companies' financial returns. 
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Ofwat and CCW have said wastewater companies must review their responses to sewer flooding incidents after a report commissioned by the bodies found customers felt let down by slow action, poor communication and inadequate compensation. CCW chief executive Emma Clancy said the research had exposed “a cross-sector failure which is leaving people who experience sewer flooding in vulnerable circumstances.”
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The government has declared its support for further investment in sewerage systems in England and Wales in its response to the Environmental Audit Committee’s damning report on water quality in rivers. However, the committee's recommendations to address pollution from agriculture and homebuilding, which both play a significant role in preventing rivers from achieving good ecological status, were not accepted.
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Incoming Ofwat chair Iain Coucher has outlined his four priorities for his tenure that include addressing river water quality in rivers and boosting water companies' financial resilience by ensuring boards and executives take responsibility. He will succeed Jonson Cox who is set to step down at the end of June after 10 years as chair of the regulator.
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