The Water Market

On the 1 April 2017, many businesses in England can switch their water and wastewater supplier. This means that eligible businesses and organisations are no longer restricted to buying their water and wastewater services from their regional water company, they are now free to choose a water retailer.

When a customer switches, nothing much changes, the water coming out of their tap is still abstracted, stored, treated and distributed by the water wholesaler service in the customer’s area as before.

If a business is eligible, they can choose to have one retailer for water supply and another for wastewater services, or just have one for both.

The benefits of a competitive water market include:

  • Better value for your money
  • Lowering your bills and charges
  • Improving the customer service you get
  • Tailored services for your company – such as consolidated billing
  • Help to become a more water efficient business

To find out more information on retailers, please visit the Open Water website where you can also find out more information about the market changes.

Water Retail

The water retail market is open to businesses, charities and public sector organisations with premises that qualify.  These ‘non-household’ customers are likely to be eligible if their premises are:

a)    used mainly for business supplied from a wholly or mainly English-based water company
b)    Licensed retailers now buy wholesale water services – the physical supply of water and the removal of wastewater – from the regional water companies, who continue to supply your water, treat your wastewater and maintain the water and wastewater pipe networks.

The retailers package these water services with other services and compete for customers.

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Making Water Competition Work

The open retail water market works in a similar way to the other utility markets, such as gas, electricity and telecoms. The Open Water programme is led by three partner organisations, Ofwat, Defra and MOSL, working with existing water companies across England, Scotland and Wales.
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Business customers, also referred to as non-household (NHH) customers, can switch.  A business customer is classified as running a business or organisation occupying premises that are not principally a home. This includes business from factories to shops, churches, universities, charities and public sector organisations.

This is dependent on where the premises are and which suppliers currently provide your water and wastewater services.  For more information, please refer to Open Water.

Your most recent water bill will tell you who your current supplier is.  If you are still uncertain, or do not have a copy of your water bill, you can find details of all the water suppliers on Ofwat’s website together with their contact details; click here.

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