South West Water has submitted an updated plan to Ofwat which would see bills fall by even more than they would have done in their previous plan, which was submitted last December. Bills could fall by 13% below inflation by the end of the decade. In addition they plan to increase their investment by 19% in real terms to £868m.
Water bills reduced by 7.2% this year following the introduction of the Government’s £50 contribution and SWW has already confirmed that tariffs will be frozen in 2014/15.
Highlights of their investment plan include £42m to investigate and improve bathing water quality, £31 to improve quality of shellfish waters, £54m on a new water treatment works to serve Plymouth and the surrounding areas, £25m to improve drinking water quality, £14m to expand its Upstream Thinking programme to restore wetlands and control treatment costs, plus £9m on a new Downstream Thinking scheme to cut the risk of sewer flooding and overflows.
Their latest update follows Ofwat’s announcement that South West Water had submitted one of the best plans in the water industry. If Ofwat is satisfied with their update it will be confirmed as ‘enhanced’ on 4 April, before being ‘fast tracked’ for a draft price determination by 30 April.
Ofwat was very complimentary about SWW’s business plan, saying it was of “particularly high quality, with a consistent focus on listening and responding to what their customers want.” The consultation lasted about two years, during which SWW got the views of thousands of customers. This extensive engagement helped secure an 84% acceptance rating from customers and also won the backing of the independent WaterFuture customer panel.
SWW stated “Thank you for your feedback and interest to date. We will continue to keep you updated as the price-setting process.”