Water companies warned over poor performanceOfwat says there is no cause for complacency

10 August 2007

 

a tap with water flowing

Planning ahead is key to meeting demands

Some water companies are still performing poorly in key areas, the industry regulator has revealed.

Ofwat said it still had concerns about some aspects of Severn Trent Water, Southern Water and South East Water.

Its performance review said Severn Trent Water performed poorly on investing to improve security of supply, meeting its leakage targets and the extent of supply interruption.

Ofwat added that while Southern Water had invested significantly, it had not delivered expected improvements to its performance in sewage treatment, while South East Water performed badly when dealing with customers.

Customer service

Customers of all three companies experienced significant problems with billing systems, difficulties with telephone contact systems and delays in the resolution of complaints.

Ofwat Chief Executive Regina Finn said: ‘While the water industry generally continues to meet its customers' needs, there is certainly no cause for complacency. And there are some companies where we have several key concerns.

 ‘Severn Trent Water and Southern Water must work harder to ensure their assets continue to be fit for purpose. Customers deserve high quality standards of service and we have put pressure on companies to improve in this area.

‘Southern Water and Severn Trent Water have provided us with action plans of how they will improve customer services and South East Water is also taking steps to remedy its failings. We will be monitoring the progress of all companies very closely and making sure they do deliver for their customers.’

Investment

The water regulator has examined annual returns from the 22 water companies and found that investment was up nearly a quarter on the previous year.

It added that the majority of companies are investing what is needed in most areas to maintain the standard of service expected by customers.

Ms Finn said the industry must also learn lessons from the recent flooding which devastated parts of England.

She said: ‘Climate change may mean that such storms happen more often and cause more floods. This makes long-term planning essential and we must look hard at how to protect all crucial infrastructure - not just that of the water industry.

‘Before the floods struck, Ofwat had already asked water companies to prepare 25-year Strategic Direction Statements. These will shape our next Price Review in 2009 and give an ideal platform for the water industry to plan for challenges such as climate change.’