Tom Melhuish 5 min read

The British water market: An Overview

According to a WWF report of the UK’s impact on global water resources, the UK water footprint amounts to 102 billion cubic metres every year, which is equivalent to the flow of the River Thames, on an annual basis, 49 times over.

Nearly 24% of this water footprint comes from industry, in comparison to agriculture (73%) and household use (3%). While less than a quarter of the total water footprint is related to business water, these numbers still verify that businesses have a major impact on water consumption across the UK.

Understanding exactly how the business water market works, as well as how business water bills are collected, can help you better grasp how your business contributes to the water footprint of the UK, and how you can save money and reduce water consumption.

How does the business water market work?

In the UK, the business water market separates water suppliers from the management of infrastructure thanks to deregulation, turning it into a privatised sector. Today, the private water and sewerage industry of England and Wales are economically controlled by The Water Services Regulation Authority, or Ofwat.

In April 2017, commercial customers in England were given the opportunity to find their own business water suppliers based on their company needs instead of the location of their business premises. 

This was known as the deregulation of the water market and has transformed the way commercial businesses have chosen their water and waste services over the years.

Today, all businesses in England and Scotland (and certain businesses in Wales) have the approval to choose their own business water supplier for both water and wastewater services. A variety of water suppliers operate across the UK, competing for business based on their specific levels of service, customer service quality and optimal pricing.

How are business water bills calculated?

Business water charges are based on the supply and amount of freshwater used on your business premises. While most charges come from a meter reading, others may be charged on the estimate of water usage based on the value of your property if a meter isn’t present.

Wastewater also impacts a business’s water bill. These specific charges are based on the amount of used water that drains to the connected sewer system.

With dozens of different licensed business water suppliers across the UK, there are plenty of options to choose from. One major factor they all have in common, however, is the way they charge for water. Each supplier uses the following format to calculate water charges:

  • Water charges: A fee that’s determined by the following mathematical equation:
    • Standing charge + (Volume of water used x Volumetric rate).
  • Fixed/standing charges: A standard fee made by the specific supplier. This covers maintenance costs such as conducting a meter reading.
  • Volumetric charges: A fee that’s dependent on the total amount of water used by your business. The location of your business premises and the pricing strategy of your supplier determines the charge per cubic meter of water.

Similarly, wastewater charges are calculated using the following format:

  • Wastewater charges: A fee that’s determined by the following mathematical equation:
    • Standing charge + (Volume of water used x wastewater volumetric rate x return to sewerage factor)
  • Fixed/standing charges: Fee created by the supplier to cover maintenance costs, such as maintaining pipes between your business premises and the sewerage system.
  • Volumetric charges: Fee created by your business water supplier based on the amount of water supplied multiplied by the return to the sewerage system.
  • Return to sewerage factor: The return to sewerage factor estimates the proportion of the water supplied that is also removed as wastewater. The assumption is that 100% of all water supplied on businesses premises is then removed as wastewater.

Remember: While all business water suppliers follow this same format for water and wastewater charges, fees will differ from one supplier to the next.

Why should I compare business water organisations?

Finding ways to save money and gain better customer service experiences are two critical factors to consider when improving business efficiencies. Switching water suppliers can help you achieve both.

By comparing business water suppliers, you can benefit from cost savings through potential bill consolidation. Additionally, newly licensed suppliers are knowledgeable, innovative and eager to assist, providing the support needed to become a more water-efficient business over time.

How to switch your business water supplier

Switching your business water supplier allows you to save money and gain improved levels of service.

Choosing a new business water supplier can be an intimidating task. That’s why we want to take care of the job for you. 

At AquaSwitch, we believe that providing a tailored solution is one of the most important factors in finding the right business water supplier for you.

Our process is simple:

First, we’ll ask you to provide a few details about the current water demands of your business. From there, we’ll send your case to the market suppliers for pricing.

Next, we’ll collect prices and compare your current business water rates, so you can be sure making the switch provides does in fact save you money.

Once we’ve found a new water supplier that meets your needs and matches your pricing requirements, one of our water specialists will onboard you. We’ll process all of your information from your old supplier and connect you with your new one.

By working with AquaSwitch, you can save up to 20% on your business water bills. To learn more about your opportunity to save and switch, contact us directly today.

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