Ofwat sets out three-year plan

Water watchdog Ofwat has published a new strategy setting out its plans for regulation of water and sewerage over the next three years.

Its key aims include protecting consumers, keep companies accountable, enforce compliance transparently, and ensure long term sustainability.

Ofwat's Strategy - Taking a Forward Look also sets out its commitment to regulate prices and services where competition is not possible or strong enough to protect customers, and to open markets to competition where the organisation believes it will benefit customers.

The strategy also confirms the watchdog's budget for 2008-09 as £17.9m - an increase from the earlier projected figure of £13.7m to finance work on projects such as the 2009 price review, promoting competition, and the Thames Tideway Scheme.

Ofwat chairman Philip Fletcher said: "The water and sewerage sectors face tough new challenges in serving water consumers.

"Each company must cater for changing populations and rising consumer expectations while also mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change.

"We need to change how we regulate to help companies meet these new challenges. Our strategy is the first step in this direction."

Tony Smith, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council for Water told edie: "We welcome the fact that Ofwat's new strategy echoes our own view that keeping consumers at the heart of what Ofwat does is a strategic priority.

"We will work with Ofwat and the industry to make sure that that is a reality for water consumers."

Over the next three years, the strategy sets out a large number of activities Ofwat will undertake, including revising water efficiency targets to 2015, make recommendations to Government to enable effective competition, and publishing water companies' annual returns to increase the onus on firms to provide reliable, accurate data.

Kate Martin



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