Frequently asked questions
This section provides answers to some of the questions frequently asked by commercial customers.
Who decides how much water companies can charge?
Water and sewerage charges have to be agreed with the industry regulator Ofwat. We cannot charge what we like. All water companies must submit a strategic plan to Ofwat every five years. Ofwat considers those plans and reviews each water company's performance and investment needs. The regulator sets efficiency targets and the charges for each water company. Ofwat has set the charges for the five year period up to 2010.
Why is my bill increasing?
We are the most efficient water and sewerage company in the UK so if we only had to maintain existing services, bills would in fact be falling. However, additional investment is needed to replace ageing infrastructure and meet the higher environmental and quality standards required by European and UK regulators. Your bill will help to pay for this investment as well as covering the everyday costs of running our water and sewerage network.
Why are our bills higher than some other water companies?
There are a number of reasons why the cost of water and sewerage services varies around the country. Each water and sewerage company works in a different operating environment and to different standards of service and efficiency. These factors are taken into consideration when the industry regulator Ofwat sets prices. Our charges are higher than some other water companies because we service a largely rural population and our distribution costs are high. We also have some of the highest quality and service standards in the industry.
Why are the charges for sewerage higher than water supply?
Sewerage charges are higher than your water charges because sewage treatment costs more than treating and supplying drinking water.
Why do I have to pay standing charges?
For metered customers the standing charges contribute towards the cost of the meter, meter readings, meter maintenance and replacement. Some of these costs are recovered through the water supply standing charge and the rest through the sewerage standing charge.
We also recover the costs of dealing with surface water and highway drainage within the sewerage standing charge. As these costs bear no relation to the volume of water used, we believe it is appropriate to recover them through a fixed charge.
The unmetered standing charges are the same for both water supply and sewerage. Part of this covers the cost of billing as well as an element that reflects the fixed costs of providing you with water and/or sewerage services.
Why are the sewerage standing charges higher than those for water supply?
The sewerage standing charge contains an element for highway and surface water drainage. Customers can apply for an abatement on this charge if the surface water from their roof, shared roof or any hard paved area does not drain to the sewer.
My bills are going up, what can I do?
There are a number of things you can do to manage the effect of the price rises.
- making sure you are on the most appropriate tariff for your operations
- reviewing your operations and considering best practice water use and waste minimisation
- considering effluent pre-treatment water recycling and alternative sources of water for non-potable use.
Further advice on waste minimisation, water recycling, alternative sources of water and best practice hints and resources, can be found here.
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