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South West Water publishes 25-year outlook

image depicting Waste Water Operator Martyn Squires
Waste Water Operator Martyn Squires
Outlining its plans to cope with population growth, climate change and new environmental legislation, South West Water has published its proposed business strategy for 2015-2040.

The 25-year 'What's in the Pipeline' outlook has been published ahead of the 2014 Price Review which will establish investment and water charges in England and Wales between 2015 and 2020. South West Water is inviting feedback on its long-term proposals to inform its coming Business Plan submitted to industry regulator, Ofwat, in 2014.

Since 1989, South West Water has invested nearly £6 billion to modernise the region's water and sewerage services. Successes include achieving an industry-leading water quality and leakage record, avoiding water restrictions for sixteen years, and carrying out the largest environmental clean-up of its kind in Europe through the Clean Sweep programme which has seen the closure of more than 250 raw sewage outfalls.

The company's strategy for 2015-2040 is designed to safeguard these successes and ensure the networks and services that customers depend on are maintained and improved, where necessary, to deliver a reliable, high quality and cost-effective drinking water and waste water service with minimal environmental impact.

Some of the long-term goals outlined in the 'WaterFuture' strategy include:

• Ensuring all customers can enjoy an uninterrupted supply of fresh, clean drinking water that not only meets the highest water quality standards but is also free from any unwanted taste, colour or odour. This includes investments in upgrades to several water treatment works and the improvement of water main connections
• Reducing the likelihood of services being affected by extreme weather events, such as the flooding the region has experienced in recent months
• Improving customer service in order that any issues are resolved first time
• Preventing harmful pollution incidents and reducing the risk of flooding. This will be achieved, in part, by separating the waste water from homes and businesses from the surface water that runs into the sewers from highways and public drains
• Improving raw water quality and natural water storage in the landscape through catchment management schemes (known as 'Upstream Thinking'). This includes projects to restore damaged peatlands on Exmoor and Dartmoor, and initiatives to encourage environmentally-sensitive farming and industrial practices around the region's waterways
• Improving energy efficiency, hydro and other renewable energy schemes are set to be expanded, in order to meet more of the company's energy needs onsite. 

Chief Executive Chris Loughlin said: "First and foremost, our strategy is designed to deliver the services our customers depend on in the most cost-efficient and environmentally responsible way possible.

"We've achieved a great deal over the last two decades. The challenge now is to build on that success. We must continue to meet the needs of a population that is set to grow significantly, while also ensuring that we can deal with the implications of extreme weather and increased legislation.

"It remains our aim to balance the needs and priorities of our customers with our environmental responsibilities and legislative obligations. To achieve that, our investments must be timely and efficient. In some areas of the business this will mean investing sooner rather than later as not doing so would run the risk of our networks failing to cope with increased demand and the impact of extreme weather events.

"WaterFuture is our vision for the long-term. It is also an invitation for our customers to tell us what they think of the proposals we have made as this will help shape our business planning process."

Tim Jones, Chair of Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership said: "I heartily endorse South West Water's long term commitment to invest in and serve the region. Excellent water and sewerage infrastructure are vital to help regional businesses grow. Investment as we have seen in the past does bring direct benefits for sectors like tourism and also creates skilled local jobs.
"I'm glad to see South West Water is thinking ahead for the long term and setting out its priorities now."

Notes to editors

1) Customers can request a copy of What's in the Pipeline and give their opinions now by going to southwestwater.co.uk/waterfuture. If they sign up for email updates, they will be automatically entered in monthly draws for £50 shopping vouchers

2) Investment and price levels for water companies in England and Wales are decided in five year blocks. What's in the Pipeline is the customer summary version of WaterFuture - South West Water's outlook for 2015 to 2040 including long term goals, the challenges expected and the first steps planned for 2015 to 2020

3) Upsteam Thinking is South West Water's drive to restore thousands of acres of wetlands and promote better farming practices around water in partnership with national parks, landowners and wildlife trusts. Improving water quality before it reaches the treatment process will help control future water bills.

Published: 10 January 2013

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