In regards to utilities, water is often considered to be the ‘poor relation’ to gas and electricity, as described by the leading specialist water management company, Waterscan. The moderately low cost of water supply and waste water management – coupled with an inflexible marketplace – has led to it being somewhat misunderstood. However, with relatively recent developments and industry analysis, this is expected to change one year from now.
Although the Water Bill was passed over two years ago in May 2014, it is expected that it is set to ‘revolutionise’ the water market landscape in the UK for the foreseeable future. It provides all commercial and other non-household water users the opportunity for the first time to switch suppliers, negotiate contracts in terms of price and service level, and is hoped to result in improved customer service levels. For bigger, multi-site organisations, the move could also potentially reduce administration due to a ‘cohesive, consolidated’ approach to billing.
OFWAT has cited climate change leading to more droughts and floods, increasing environmental standards and a fast growing population as key drivers for this initiative. The focus is all on water efficiency and this is sorely needed as significant risks to water availability have been reported. According to the Water Resources Group, the global demand for fresh water will exceed supply by 40 per cent by the year 2030.
Making less water go further will not only help to make the supply chain more resilient to future demands, but it can also help to reduce bill costs. As the director of Waterscan, Claire Yeates, explains: “The open water market comes into force in April 2017 and that seems a long way off, but negotiations with water suppliers is scheduled to commence in October 2016 – less than 12 months from now. In order for UK businesses to get the best deal, we cannot stress enough how important it is to be prepared – and that preparation needs to start now.”
She continues: “We are encouraging companies to collate 12 months’ good quality water data and to get under the skin of their water consumption. Knowing the detail behind your bills – how much water you use, where and when – will empower facilities managers to enter negotiations with confidence and structure their water contracts in the most profitable and environmentally sustainable way. These are the companies that will see the greatest benefits from the market reform.”
Waterscan suggests that the problem is that much of this information is buried in what could be as many as 27 different water contracts if you’re a multi-site operation, and all water companies have different ‘charging mechanisms’ making accurate price comparisons ‘difficult at best’.
As a company, Waterscan provides a variety of consultancy services including a free and detailed ‘Water Check’ service which helps clients fully understand their current operational water footprint and importantly, to put it into context by benchmarking against industry norms. With minimal input required from clients, this exercise helps Waterscan to take swift action to address any inefficiencies and correct billing errors, which often results in tens of thousands of pounds saved.