Excellent water quality

Customers consistently tell us that having a safe, reliable supply of water is their number one priority, both now and in the future.

Thanks to our planned investment programme, our customers enjoy high-quality drinking water. To maintain the high quality of our drinking water into the future, however, we need to continue to invest in our treatment works and networks to ensure they remain effective.

Our long term plans

We will develop innovative, sustainable, long term solutions to ensure we continue to deliver high-quality water through effective and reliable assets and networks.

Drinking water quality - While there is no need for major investment to meet current water quality standards, there is a need for us to continue to invest to ensure that our water quality assets, including treatment works, service reservoirs and pumps remain serviceable. Falling demand overall presents its own challenges for water quality, as less water moves through the network, we will need to manage our sources and network intelligently to maintain water quality. We will look to innovate to meet these challenges cost-effectively.

Water Hardness - We understand that symptoms of hard water, such as scaling on kettles and washing machines can be of concern to some customers, and that they would prefer softer water. We do not, however, have a significant number of customer contacts regarding this issue (about 35 a year). The cost of softening water supplies is extremely high; to treat all water would require a capital investment of around £50m, with an annual operating cost in excess of £5m.

We have decided, at this time, not to invest significant sums of money in this area. We will, however, improve our engagement with customers on this issue and provide information about managing water hardness in the home.

Lead pipes - We will continue to invest to protect public health, primarily by continuing to work on removing lead from drinking water. We manage lead by treating drinking water with phosphates, which helps prevent the lead from dissolving in drinking water. It does not, however, prevent all lead dissolving, so, at times, it is better to replace the lead pipes. 

We will focus our lead pipe replacement programme on vulnerable groups, such as schools and nurseries. This will ensure that the local community gets the maximum benefit from the investment.

Catchment management - An innovative way of improving the quality of our raw water sources is to more closely manage the catchment area that affects the river or aquifer. By working with farmers and experts on the type of soil, crops and the way fertilizers and pesticides are used, it may be possible to stop or slow down the amount of chemicals that are washed into rivers or percolate down through the rock.

We will work with stakeholders, farmers and communities to investigate sustainable catchment management schemes, while ensuring that there is no unacceptable risk to our customers.