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South West Water invest £868m on upgrades

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 03, 2013

By Andy Greenwood, WMN Chief Reporter, Twitter: @Hackintheshack

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South West Water yesterday unveiled an £868 million investment package, while also freezing bills until 2015, in its formal plan to the industry regulator.

The Western Morning News revealed last week that the company would not increase bills in the short term while keeping price rises beyond 2015 below inflation until the end of the decade.

The details were formally confirmed yesterday as South West Water submitted its WaterFuture Final Business Plan to industry regulator Ofwat.

The plan also outlines an £868 million investment plan including new state-of-the-art treatment works, and ensuring bathing waters affected by the current sewage system meet higher cleanliness standards imposed by Europe.

South West Water chief executive Chris Loughlin said: "We are proposing to invest 20% more than we will between 2015 and 2020 to safeguard and upgrade our networks and services.

"Customers have clearly told us they want no cuts in services and no big increases in bills.

"With the vital input of thousands of our customers, dozens of organisations in the South West and our independent customer challenge panel, we believe we have put the best, balanced plan to improve services that people and businesses depend on and protect the environment while keeping bills as low as possible."

The Exeter-based company, which serves Devon, Cornwall and parts of Somerset and Dorset, serves some 800,000 households and businesses.

It believes the £868 million investment programme could support as many as 6,000 jobs in the region through the company's local supply chain.

Headline projects include a £50 million scheme to replace the Crownhill water treatment works with a cutting- edge new works serving Plymouth and the surrounding area.

It also plans to expand its award-winning "Upstream Thinking" programme, to restore wetlands and control future treatment costs, together with a new "Downstream Thinking" scheme to cut the risk of sewer flooding and overflows.

In addition to making "early investment" to ensure all bathing waters affected by its sewer network reach the European Union's new higher standards, the company plans to minimise risk of odours from sewage plants and drive down occurrences of discoloured tap water.

Water main bursts would also be fixed quicker.

The average annual household bill for water and sewerage, including the £50 Government contribution, would be kept to at 1.7% per annum until 2019/20 – well below the forecast inflation rate of 3.2%.

The average bill would reach £557 in 2019/20.

The plan needs to be approved by Ofwat with a decision expected next year.

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  • Rick_OShay  |  December 03 2013, 11:49AM

    Ah, the old SWW conjuring trick of letting us know how many millions they PLAN to spend....................but strangely the problems never get solved. Meanwhile Ofwat and Ofgem compete to see which regulator can be the least effective. Rick O'Shay Zog

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