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ARE YOU looking forward to 2011?

There's a real sense of anticipation in the water industry as we await the outcomes of wholesale policy and regulatory reviews during the year ahead.   But it still remains to be seen how far our collective hopes will be satisfied and who may yet be disappointed.

Speaking for a supply chain buoyed by the upturn in AMP5 capital investment, I believe there is a genuine feeling of optimism. Just as the public sector has braced itself for spending cuts, we are coming out of the cold, barren years of the spending cycle and hitting better times. But our hope will be relatively short-lived if the peak is followed by another crippling trough in just a few years time. 

The Ofwat Review will set the tone when it is published early in the New Year. More than two thirds of readers voting in the Hydro poll on Web4Water agreed long-term sustainability should be top of its agenda with only 12% voting for affordable charging.  It goes to underline how Ofwat's remit has developed since privatisation and how much more its future purpose must embrace the twin goals of environmental performance and innovation.   Many have argued that historically Ofwat has interpreted its role too narrowly as primarily focused on reducing consumer bills.  Moving forward, the real question is how much it will change culturally as well as structurally to actively promote the sustainable development of the whole industry as well as addressing environmental issues.

The Water White Paper expected by June will take account of the Ofwat Review recommendations, as well as reflecting the conclusions of the Walker review on charging and the Cave review on competition.    2011 will be a fascinating year all round with the implementation of the Flood and Water Management Act, the transfer of private sewers to the water companies and the ongoing challenges of the EU Water Framework Directive all promising major impacts on how the industry conducts itself.  It's a big ‘to do' list for the year ahead

To truly change for the better, our industry needs to be innovative, improve its environmental performance and reduce water consumption.  We must leave 2011 with the water industry in good shape to meet future challenges of population growth, climate change and carbon emissions.  

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