The water industry has pledged to triple leakage reduction rates by 2030, as part of a new sector-wide initiative to work in the public interest.

The trade body Water UK has today (25 April) published its new public interest commitment, which includes a number of goals the sector will work towards.

The commitments include a pledge to triple leakage reduction rates across the industry by 2030, as part of a long-term strategy to reduce consumption and invest more in water transfer and storage.

It also promises that water companies will make bills affordable for all households and achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.

A programme to achieve each of the commitment pledges will be led by a member of the Water UK board and an independent panel will report annually on how well the industry is performing.

The commitment comes at a time when water companies are under increased pressure to improve performance, with Labour politicians threatening nationalisation.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that Thames Water has added a new clause to some of its financial bonds to ensure investors are paid back immediately if the utility company is nationalised.

“The water industry takes its responsibility very seriously, because we play a unique role in running a vital public service for the public good,” said Water UK chief executive, Michael Roberts.

“Water companies individually have set out proposals to improve services over the next five years in their business plans, and the public interest commitment is about companies working together to build on those ambitions. It commits us to reinforce the public interest at the heart of everything we do, and to strive towards a set of challenging sector-wide goals which will benefit customers and the environment.”

The deputy chief executive of the Consumer Council for Water, Phil Marshall said: “Many people still don’t think they get a fair deal or value for money from their water company, so it’s imperative that the industry is committed to tackling the things that matter most to consumers.

“The goals set out by Water UK can go a long way to improving consumers’ perceptions of the industry but only if water companies deliver on these aspirations.”

The five “challenging goals” water companies have agreed to work together towards are:

  • Triple the rate of leakage reduction across the sector by 2030
  • Make bills affordable as a minimum for all households with water and sewerage bills more than 5 per cent of their disposable income by 2030 and develop a strategy to end water poverty
  • Achieve net zero carbon emissions for the sector by 2030
  • Prevent the equivalent of 4 billion plastic bottles ending up as waste by 2030
  • Be the first sector to achieve 100 per cent commitment to the Social Mobility Pledge

Responding exclusively to Utility Week’s New Deal for Utilities campaign and the renationalisation debate, Roberts said: “This is a sector working energetically with its stakeholders on the most important challenges it faces. There is plenty still to do, but there should be no doubting our ability and commitment to operate in the public interest.”