Interim results 2018

Customers have reliable services even during extreme weather events

Wessex Water's half year results show the company performed well during a dry summer that saw the highest sustained period of demand for water in 12 years. 

Demand in June and July was some 48 mega litres a day - the equivalent to 120 Olympic sized swimming pools - higher than the equivalent period last year. The last time demand was that high was back in 2006. 

But there were no water restrictions for customers for the 42nd year in succession during the prolonged dry weather spell and homes and businesses continued to have a reliable supply. 

Wessex Water was able to move water around its region to meet the demand, using its multimillion pound integrated water supply grid, which was commissioned earlier this year. 

Managing director Andy Pymer said: "There is no doubt that during both the Beast from the East and the summer dry weather spell, our water supply grid ensured supplies remained resilient. While there may have been problems of potential water shortages in other parts of the country, we were able to maintain a reliable supply through these challenging weather events.  

"The £228 million pound investment in our supply grid also helped protect the environment as we've been able to reduce abstraction in areas of our region where this was reducing the water flow in sensitive rivers." 

The summer heatwave also increased the number of significant customer reported leaks, but the company's repair teams worked at full capacity ever since to help ensure it meets its target of fixing 80% within a day by the end of the year. 

Investment in schemes to improve water and sewerage schemes and protect the environment, continued throughout the first half of the 2018-19 financial year.  

The first part of the £15m North Bristol strategy sewer, the Frome Valley relief sewer, was completed ahead of the regulatory date of March 2019. And the second part, the Trym relief sewer, is progressing well, and on track for completion by March 2022.  

Focus on customers and communities

Wessex Water continued to be a top performer for customer satisfaction as a result of continuously improving the customer experience to meet the increasing expectations of customers, and earlier this year retained the government Customer Service Excellence award. 

Mr Pymer said: "We engage on a day-to-day basis with our customers through a variety of channels and in any one year we talk to around 60,000 customers as part of this routine engagement - their voice makes a difference to the services we offer and the communications we provide."  

Throughout the year company employees have been supporting communities throughout the region as part of the Water Force initiative. Volunteers have been busy working with charities and local community groups. 

Additional funding, as part of the company's Watermark award scheme, is also being used to support groups to provide a local refill point for water, to improve accessibility and address the urgent need to reduce the use of single-use plastics. Freshford Galleries community shop, near Bath, is one group which has already benefited.  

Engaging with local communities remains a top priority for Wessex Water as is the need to encourage more people to participate and help protect the water environment. 

These were key areas highlighted in Wessex Water's business plan for 2020-2025, which it submitted in September and focuses on the company's significant role in the community and its catchment-based approaches to deliver its largest ever environmental improvement programme. 

A staggering £1.4 billion will be invested over five years in areas such as tackling leakage -  which is already at its lowest level, ensuring customers have reliable services by renewing ageing pipes, protecting homes from flooding and improving the environment. Meanwhile, customer bills, before inflation, will be lower in 2025 than they are today. 

Mr Pymer said that 96% of customers found the plan acceptable and 93% felt it represents good value for money. 

He added: "Every customer has had the opportunity to shape the future of their water services. We've concentrated on testing our business plan with customers to make sure we've heard them correctly and developed a plan that meets their expectations.  

"In our ambitious plan we've set out how we will continue to safeguard water and sewerage services for customers for many years to come." 

Financial results for the six months to September 2018 showed an increase in turnover of £5m from £273m to £278m, while profit after tax decreased by £14m from £69m to £55m.