10 April 2014 | Mark Powles
Change is coming to the English water market, and it’ll provide supply managers and procurement professionals with a chance to drive real value in their organisations.
The Water Bill, which will introduce full competition to the non-domestic water industry in England, is on the cusp of finishing its passage through Westminster. This will mean that businesses and public sector organisations will, from April 2017, be free to choose their supplier of water and waste water services. In Scotland businesses have been benefiting from choice for more than six years, saving over £65 million through discounts and efficiency savings.
At the moment only sites using five mega-litres (five million litres) of water per year are eligible to switch. That equates to only about 27,000 sites across England, out of an estimated one million in total. From April 2017 this threshold will be dropped and all non-household customers will be able to change their supplier.
While there is plenty still to be done by the industry to create a competitive market, there are a few measures that water users (big and small) could be taking now. Here are four ways you can help your organisation get the most out of water and get ready for competition:
- Review existing services. Think about what you need and what you don’t. Competition will open up a whole host of new services to businesses as the market drives innovation. We went from six services pre-market opening in Scotland to more than 60 as a result of customer feedback.
- Monitor your water use. Customers who have a full understanding of their water data will be in the best position to benefit from market competition. How much water is your organisation consuming? How does this compare with businesses in the same sector? Benchmarking and monitoring water use ahead of the introduction of competition will put you on the front foot. (You can use Business Stream’s clever benchmarking tool to help you do this).
- Find out if you can switch right now. The largest users of water could look at switching their sites which currently use more than the five mega-litre threshold and get a feel for the market and what is likely to become available in a few years’ time.
- Think about the bigger picture, in particular water efficiency and waste water minimization. Could your organisation benefit from leak detection, water recycling, smart meters, trade effluent treatment etc? Water supply shouldn’t begin and end with a bill, it should involve helping you manage your water supply from beginning to end.
☛ Mark Powles is chief executive at Business Stream. If you want to be kept up to date with the changes in the English water market then drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive market reform email updates.