Ofwat's Fletcher: Change essential and inevitable for sector
Ofwat chief executive Rachel Fletcher has said change in the water industry is "essential and indeed inevitable" and that the time is right to discuss "a new vision for the water sector".
In a column for Utility Week, Fletcher said PR19 represents "a cornerstone of our efforts to set the water industry on a new course in the 2020s and beyond" but acknowledged that the last year could be viewed as "a turning point in the history of the water sector in England and Wales".
She explained: "Intense and unceasing scrutiny from all sides of the political spectrum, national newspapers and the academic community has given rise to fundamental questions about who owns the sector, how it is run and in whose interest.
"And it isn’t just the water companies that have had cause to reflect. We at Ofwat have been thinking in-depth about our role as the regulator and in shaping the future of the water sector in the 2020s and beyond."
Fletcher said customers' increasing interest in the industry should be "welcomed" as they hold companies to account on issues like billing and the environment.
"Companies shouldn’t need to rely on Ofwat to tell them what good looks like," she said. "This should come instinctively from a deep understanding of the customers and communities they serve.
"This, I believe, would be the best possible outcome for customers. It goes without saying, of course, that whether now or in the future, we will never hesitate to step in where we see standards starting to slip."
Ofwat has also come under scrutiny, with the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee recently issuing a report that suggested the regulator could be more ambitious, while Chancellor Philip Hammond has tasked the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) with carrying out a study into the telecoms, energy and water regulators.
Fletcher said Ofwat would be engaging with these reviews and speaking to water company CEOs, investors, government and communities, adding: "Given the strong appetite for change, we feel the time is right to start a conversation about a new vision for the water sector."
- Bristol Water triumphs at water 'Oscars' Bristol Water, which pioneered the pop-up water bar, triumphed at last night's Water Industry Achievement Awards when it... Read More >
- Non-household competition could benefit domestic water customers, says KPMG Increasing non-household competition will encourage water companies to seek new efficiencies that could also benefit their... Read More >
- Stellar line up for Sustainable Water 2013 Water industry leaders will join chairman of the Environment Agency, Lord Chris Smith, and utility chief executives Colin... Read More >
- Meeting AMP7 leakage targets Damian Crawford, head of smart networks & leakage at Stantec, discusses how becoming data-rich and knowledge-smart can... Read More >
- Rewarding excellence WWT content director Alec Peachey looks ahead to next year's Water Industry Awards. Read More >
- Delivering a smart network Tom Mills, senior director UK&I at Sensus, examines what a smart water network really means - and how to get there. Read More >
- A watershed moment for the water industry? Tessa Harding, director of water at Thomson Environmental Consultants, discusses the government's Environment Bill. Read More >
- AMP7: putting the customer centre stage 2020 marks the beginnings of a new chapter for clients and contractors in the water industry with the start of AMP7, the... Read More >