“The risks highlighted by the PAC are real,” says Anglian Water CEO Peter Simpson

10 July 2020


In the news today is the Public Accounts Committee’s publication of its report into water supply and demand management. The report highlights the significant challenges faced by the water industry in meeting the supply and demand balance over the next 10 years in the face of a changing climate and growing population. 


There’s a lot in the report that we agree with, both in terms of the challenge and the required response. Here’s the thoughts of our CEO, Peter Simpson:


“As the water company serving the driest parts of the UK, we’re acutely aware of the challenges we face from future water deficit. Balancing the needs of a rapidly growing population, with those of the wider environment, in a region where climate change is already being felt more keenly than anywhere else, is a tall order.  Additionally, we’re aware of our responsibility to invest in order to secure a more resilient future while keeping bills affordable for all.


“The risks highlighted by the PAC are real.  If we delay investment, the East of England will face a shortfall of 30 million litres of water a day in the next 10 years. But we believe the plans we’re putting in place are the right ones to tackle these challenges head on, and to secure water supplies for future generations.


“Recently, we announced two significant programmes of work which are central to meeting the challenge.  Together, they make up the twin track approach outlined in our Water Resources Management Plan – the document which outlines how we intend to manage this increasing demand for water over the next 25 years.


“The first part is managing customer demand for water by installing upgraded meters to help them understand their water usage, as well as helping us pinpoint property-side leaks which can lose hundreds of litres of water a day. Last month, we announced plans to upgrade and install 760,000 existing and new water meters for homes and businesses across the region, over the next five years, as part of a £180 million pound contract.


“The second is to invest in supply-side infrastructure via our newly formed Strategic Pipeline Alliance.


“The Strategic Pipeline Alliance is made up of construction partners Costain, Farrans, Jacobs and Mott MacDonald Bentley as part of a contract worth over £350 million, to complete one of the largest strategic water infrastructure projects the UK has ever seen.


“A vital element of this ambitious plan is to create up to 500km of interconnecting pipes and associated pumping equipment, as well as upgrading existing infrastructure to allow water transfer across our region. Its single aim is to make the East resilient to the risks of drought by securing water supplies for future generations.


“And of course, the final element of our plans is to continue to drive down leakage.  We’re proud of our continued efforts in leading the water industry on leakage reduction. In fact, we’ve just delivered our best ever year’s performance on leakage, beating our regulatory target for the ninth year running. But we recognise the continued work that needs doing in this area. By 2025, our aim is to reduce leakage levels by a further 16 per cent.


“Perhaps most importantly, all these are things our customers explicitly told us they wanted us to invest in now, rather than wait.

“Although these are our plans, we recognise the importance and the opportunity in working across sectors with other water users, if we truly stand a chance of revolutionising water resource management in the long term.


“Six years ago, Anglian Water set up Water Resources East (WRE) as a way of driving a multi-sector approach to water. It’s a pioneering water management programme which brings together water companies, energy suppliers, councils, local authorities, NGOs and customers to create a shared vision; a plan for the future.


“WRE is now a completely separate entity, providing a blueprint for other regions to be inspired by.


“Now the project is taking on an even wider remit centred around the Fenland town of Wisbech. Known as the Future Fenland Strategy, by combining this multi-sector planning for water resources with wider ambitions for social regeneration, flood risk management, and sustainable new housing, the project is driving economic growth and greener transport links as well as benefitting the natural environment and the local community.


“It’s this kind of joined up thinking, working hand in hand with the continued drive for water efficiency that’s needed if we are to meet the challenges we’re facing. It’s radically different to what’s come before, but vital, if we want to see thriving communities which are sustainable for the long term.”