Stantec’s Tim Williams takes an in-depth look at how PR19 has unfolded to date, and where the water sector is heading
Having submitted business plans on the 3 September 2018, the water companies of England and Wales waited until 31 January 2019 to receive the initial assessment of their plans from Ofwat. The view from the regulator seemed to be that the plans were a bit of a mixed bag with even fast track companies needing further work. So how did the sector match up to some of the tests set by Ofwat?
Overall the industry appears to have been more customer focused than ever before, with good scores on customer engagement as well as addressing affordability and vulnerability. For some though, there were shortfalls shown as requiring work.
Of all the tests set, the lowest score achieved by the sector was that on resilience. Ofwat stated that “companies do not use a system-based approach to assess risks to resilience” and also companies “start to consider resilience…but do not make enough of nature-based solutions to improve resilience beyond catchment management schemes”.
A key point here perhaps is that the industry still relies on conventional engineering solutions. To have a truly resilient service is likely to take a great deal of time, forethought and investment, and may be challenging to achieve in an environment of reducing customer bills.
The next stage in the process will be key. With one group of companies already in receipt of their draft determinations and the remainder due imminently, there will be interesting times ahead. Solving the equation of affordable bills, improving service and resilience, yet providing an equitable return to investors is a challenge.
Read Tim Williams' full article published on Waterbriefing
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