Greater public value one core theme in Ofwat’s consulted forward plan

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Water regulator Ofwat is seeking views on their forward programme of work for 2021-22.

The forward programme draft presents three central goals of Ofwat’s strategy:

  • Transforming company performance: The regulator acknowledges the contribution of water companies during the COVID-19 pandemic as well ‘significant improvements’ some of the companies have made. Nevertheless, examples of ‘very poor performance’, particularly with a number of environmental outcomes, have also been seen. Ofwat reports their aim to improve their understanding of water companies and the drivers of performance.
  • Preparing to meet long-term challenges: The forward programme for next year highlights the key milestones in the development of a number of strategic schemes, including the Havant Thicket reservoir, company DPC schemes and RAPID strategic schemes. However, these are set in the context of a much longer term perspective and a need to ensure enhanced focus on wastewater systems planning and on the synergies between flood and water resource management.
  • Greater public value: While there are many examples of the positive recognition and awareness of the sector’s wider public purpose, Ofwat reports that they are ‘yet to see this translate into all aspects of company culture and day to-day operational and financial decision-making.’ The regulator will continue to use a range of tools to drive greater benefit for customers, communities and the environment. Ofwat
    will also continue their partnership with CCW to develop their understanding of customers and expect to see company support for vulnerable customers translate
    into concrete outcomes, for example through the regulator’s work with Ofgem on the sharing of priority service register data between the water and energy sectors.

Ofwat’s plans for April to June 2021 include:

  • Reviewing the Outline Business Case for the first Direct Procurement for Customers project to assess its suitability for DPC
  • Publish their provisional decisions on company proposals for a green recovery for consultation.
  • Consult on the initial thinking as to how Ofwat will regulate multi-party, multi-sector, largescale water resources infrastructure solutions, including how any key gaps and barriers in the current framework are addressed.
  • Finalising the voluntary operational emissions reporting requirements for net zero:
    2020/21
  • Consulting on the methodological approach going forward for dealing with sludge
    liquors. (Sludge liquors are by-products of the sludge handling and treatment processes which must undergo further treatment before being discharged to the environment.)

The closing date for this consultation is Thursday, 18 February 2021.

More information about this consultation and how to take part is available on the Ofwat website.