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Self-Supply Water, One Year On: Exceeding Expectations

April marked not only the first anniversary of the opening of the non-household water market across England, but also of the first customer to utilise the Water Supply and Sewerage Licence (WSSL) to self-supply water. In pioneering water self-supply in conjunction with Greene King, Waterscan hoped to create a procurement model which would give commercial customers complete control over their water consumption and cost and, as a market participant, influence the marketplace. One year on, has it delivered?

Claire Yeates, Director of Waterscan comments: “At this stage in its development, self-supply has exceeded even our own expectation in terms of both the level of interest and benefits to participants. There have been five applicants and approximately 6,500 Supply Point IDs (SPIDS) switched to self-supply water in the first year alone, representing over 5% of total switches.”

“When looking at the main market segments self-supply is relevant to, over 27% of switches have been to self-supply water, a remarkable figure for a new concept. Based on the conversations that we are currently having, we expect interest in self-supply to continue to rise as organisations find the approach to be a good solution to their issues in the new market and an effective way to improve water management.”

Ofwat’s view too, is encouraging. In a recent consultation on the matter, the industry watchdog stated: “Contrary to our initial expectations, recent trends suggest that we can expect to see the number of self-supply WSSL licensees increase significantly over time. The entry of water self-supply WSSL licensees has been one of the most innovative aspects of the business retail market that we have seen so far.” The regulator recently announced measures to cut the cost and complexity of the application process for self-supply.

Alongside Waterscan itself, Greene King, Marston’s, Whitbread and Coca Cola European Partners have all been granted licences to self-supply with Blackpool Council currently awaiting Ofwat’s ruling.

Greene King: First to Self-Supply Water

Leading pub company and brewer, Greene King was the first of 1.2 million eligible organisations to apply for and obtain a WSSL. With Waterscan’s support, the company switched all of its 3,000 plus SPIDS on 1 April 2017, representing 30% of the total market switches. This proactive approach to the water market overhaul protected Greene King from some of the market teething issues and generated significant additional benefits, not least in terms of water efficiency.

Since commencing self-supply, the company has saved in excess of 140,000m3 of water. This equates to 384.32m3 per day in consumption savings: the equivalent of 676,313 pints. Further benefits being realised are site level engagement which is driving efficiency and improved savings, greater control over supply and a single point of contact across its entire estate leading to exceptional customer service.

This was highlighted during the ‘Beast from the East’ cold snap. Communications from Waterscan were sent to each Greene King site advising of need to be on alert from higher than usual consumption, which could indicate a cracked and leaking pipe. In addition, impromptu meter reads were taken across the Greene King estate to verify usage and pinpoint any unexpected spikes in consumption. This proactive approach to water management is not commonly associated with the service levels seen in the water industry and is an example of what customers should be experiencing.

Gavin Worthington, Senior Purchasing Manager at Greene King, said: “We are looking forward to building on this successful experience to date, which we believe delivers competitive advantage in both corporate social responsibility and commercial terms. We have seen reports of a slow customer response and questionable impacts of the open water market, but this has not been our experience.  While self-supply was a leap into unchartered waters, it has delivered better than expected results in a short timeframe.”

Looking Ahead: Sustainable Water for the Future

The ability to shape the future marketplace was a critical success factor for self-supply at the outset. Consequently, the self-supply community meets regularly with Ofwat, MOSL and wholesalers to convey a collective voice to key market stakeholders. So, what does a the future hold?

Claire Yeates says: “Discussions at the Self-Supply User Forum indicate that there are multiple drivers moving forward.  Enhancing sustainability and resilience from service interruptions is one of the community’s key focus areas. There’s an immediate requirement to cleanse and analyse CMOS data and, longer term, achieve better usage visibility with AMR. This will ensure 100% accuracy and more informed decisions on investment and resource allocation. Driving down costs through efficiency initiatives and close working relationships with wholesalers and also working collaboratively to achieve beneficial terms for the self-supply community also features prominently amongst priorities.”

To find out more about self-supply and sustainable water for the future, contact Waterscan on info@waterscan.com. www.waterscan.com.