Ofwat asks across society what the water sector should look like by 2040

Photo by Johnny McClung on Unsplash

Water regulator Ofwat is launching a conversation across England and Wales on what the water sector should look like by 2040, asking anyone interested in the sector open questions about meeting the needs of customers, the environment and wider society in the long term.

The water sector faces a number of challenges as it looks towards 2040.

The fourth industrial revolution is afoot as smart technology changes the way companies will operate.

Citizens and communities increasingly expect companies, including those in the water sector, to consider the wider impacts of their operations and to deliver public value.

Meeting the challenges of the future is likely to also bring mounting cost pressures at a time when affordability is an increasing concern.

According to Ofwat, all companies adapted well to the immediate challenges of COVID-19 but there will always be lessons to learn and going forward, the industry will need to become better at anticipating and adapting to uncertainty and change.

The industry will also need to innovate at a greater pace than before and make full use of opportunities from smart networks, nature based solutions and markets to thrive in the future.

In order to explore how the regulator, the water sector and wider stakeholders and decision-makers can meet these challenges, Ofwat has launched the Future Ideas Lab. where stakeholders can collaborate on the development of ideas for how the regulator should design future price reviews.

Launching the Future Ideas Lab, David Black, Chief Regulation Officer at Ofwat, stated: “The water sector faces profound challenges in the years and decades to come, but as the regulator – we share this challenge.

“We want to look towards 2040 and beyond and drive companies to seize opportunities to best meet the needs of customers, communities, and the environment.

“As in any industry, water companies will need to adapt and evolve if they are to transform their performance, and face the future with confidence.”

The regulator has also published a new discussion paper to explore how customer preferences can better inform the price review process.

Commenting on the launch of the customer engagement discussion paper, Mr Black commented: “The customer voice must be heard more clearly, both by the regulator and by water companies that provide such an essential service.

“We are committed to exploring how best we can do that and look forward to working with the sector, including consumer groups to ensure that is the case.”

The closing date for responses for this discussion paper is 29 January 2021.

More information about the Future Ideas Lab and submitting ideas can be found from the Ofwat website.