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The Water Supply Licensing competition regime

The Water Act 2003 provided for certain large users of water to be able to choose their supplier of water.

The Water Supply Licensing arrangements established under the Water Act 2003 set out how licensed entrants to the water industry can use South West Water's water supply system to supply water to a customer's eligible premises. This can either be through a wholesale supply of water treated and supplied by South West Water or through a combined supply of water introduced by the licensee into South West Water's supply system.

Only the supply of water has been opened to competition. Customers will not be able to switch suppliers for sewerage, Trade Effluent or any other services supplied by South West Water.

South West Water, as a water undertaker, will permit access under the terms of the Water Industry Act 1991 (as amended by the Water Act 2003) so as to enable a Licensee to supply water to the premises of eligible customers. A Licensee is a prospective supplier who has obtained a Water Supply Licence from the Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat). Only Licensees and Appointed Water Undertakers can supply water.

The Water Supply Licensing Network access code and indicative prices document is available to download on the right of this page.

To be eligible to change water supplier, a customer must use more than 5,000 cubic metres of water a year for non-domestic purposes, usually on a single site.    Not all customers using more than 5,000 cubic metres of water may be eligible to change supplier. The water industry regulator Ofwat publishes a guidance document on the eligibility for switching suppliers.

The price and non-price terms for any application for Water Supply Licensing will be established in an access agreement between South West Water and a Licensee. Once a customer transfers to a Licensee they will cease to be a customer of South West Water for water supply purposes. The customer will remain a customer of South West Water for sewerage, trade effluent or any other services that they receive.

Future Market Opening

The Water Act 2014 brought in provisions for the introduction of retail competition for all non-households. The provisions will enable customers to choose other retail service and price options from market participants, including South West Water and other retailers. This will apply to both water and sewerage services. This market opening is expected to be active from 1 April 2017.

Under this new regime, customers will receive an end-user charge made up from a wholesale element and a retail element. This wholesale charges scheme for 2015/16 shows the wholesale tariffs applicable to a customer as part of the total charges that include the retail services they receive from South West Water, which is also the amount that the retailer will be charged by South West Water if they receive retail services from another retailer.

A wholesale charges scheme for non-households is available to download on the top right of this page, as well as a non-household wholesale charges spreadsheet in the Ofwat standard format. Although household wholesale charges are not relevant to the market, a scheme for these charge components is also published on this page.

The South West Water compliance code that we follow for all forms of competition access is available to download on the top right of this page.

Or for any details of the contract and Service Level Agreement, Access Prices, confidentiality and data transfer agreements and the process for information requests please email:


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