The Self-Supply community met for a quarterly update briefing, hosted by Waterscan, on 14th September 2023.
Fresh from World Water Week, it felt to many in the room that a global mind shift is on the horizon about the way the world understands, respects and preserves water supplies. As Neil Pendle, Managing Director of Waterscan, noted on opening the meeting:
“World Water Week has reinforced how important leadership and staying ahead of regulation is for businesses, which all rely on a secure water supply to function. We must all focus on the need for positive action on water and the many opportunities that arise from this.”
Of course, none of this was news to those attending the Forum. The whole reason that these leading companies opted to Self-Supply was to gain the necessary insight and control over their water use to build long-term operational resilience. These companies are indeed setting the bar high on water management. Higher, in fact, than the rest of the water market, with a rolling average market performance score of 98.8%, the lowest levels of long-unread meters and a focus on rolling out smart metering across the community. Water use across the group is on track to meet, or exceed, Defra’s target to reduce non-household water consumption by 9%. These data points demonstrate what can be achieved through focus and collaborating with experts.
Beyond this group, there were some encouraging signs of progress across the water industry.
Ofwat presented an overview of The Business Retail Market Update 2022-23, the regulator’s sixth market progress report. This suggested that the water market is slowly moving in the right direction through fewer recorded written complaints and more choice for business customers. Ofwat also highlighted the market bilateral hub and sharpened performance incentives, which were both introduced to address residual market frictions around data quality and wholesaler performance. There was news of a £100m fund to support innovation and collaboration to boost water efficiency, which is also welcome.
Market operator, MOSL, has been focusing on market performance too. Its plan for a revised framework, which will outline the key activities, metrics, intervention tools, and governance arrangements for measuring and improving retailer and wholesaler performance, is timely and important.
For both Ofwat and MOSL’s ambitions to become reality, all parties involved in the water supply chain must play their part including business customers, regardless of whether they Self-Supply or procure from a water retailer. So, it was pleasing to highlight another encouraging trend in the meeting, this time around corporate disclosure on water. CDP has reported an 85% increase in water reporting over the last 5 years, and it expects this to rise as the need to manage water-related risks becomes more urgent and/or legislated upon. While we await benchmark data from the recently introduced Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), the imminent arrival of Taskforce on Nature-Related Financial Disclosures (TNFD), which also encompasses responsible water use, sends a further strong signal that factoring water into financial and business decisions is no longer a ‘nice to do’. The horizon is beginning to look a little different.
A full meeting report can be found here.