Four Vital Trends For The UK’s Water Sector in 2023 and Beyond
Blog-February 10, 2023
The UK’s water sector is essential to virtually every facet of life. It provides water to 50 million household and non-household consumers every day¹ – employing 127,000 people in the process.²
But from ageing infrastructure to sustainability pressures, the sector faces serious challenges in the coming years. Upgrading and improving water networks will require reliable site setup and key strategic equipment – such as mobile welfare units and lighting towers.
Here are four trends that water faces in 2023 and beyond:
1. Waste and pollution
According to the latest estimates, UK water companies lose an average of 2,923.8 million litres of water per day – equating to 1.06 trillion litres over a year.³ Reports also emerged last year of companies illegally dumping sewage in rivers.⁴ And while companies have reduced leakages by 6% in the last year ⁵, there is still plenty of work to be done.
As demand grows for more sustainable systems, these issues will have to be addressed. Large scale projects will be required to ensure national distribution systems adapt, ensuring waste is reduced and users across the country can reliably access clean water.
2. Justifying rising costs
Inflation has driven up prices across the board – and water is no exception. One in five UK water customers currently says their bill is not affordable.⁶ And when some regions of the country saw their water bills rise more sharply than other areas, there was some pushback against providers.⁷ As a result, there is growing pressure for water companies to justify their costs – and that means improving the experience of customers.
Ofwat recently said that investment would be 2 or 3x higher in the next regulatory period than previous periods.⁸ The cost of these investments will realistically be passed onto customers; providers will therefore have to ensure they make the right investments that lead to more reliable supplies, better service levels and improved environmental impact.
A key part of this is ensuring maintenance costs are under control. Whether it’s tower lighting units or mobile welfare units, choosing a partner that can provide best-in-class equipment with reliable service will ensure projects are not delayed – and customers ultimately experience as little disruption as possible.
3. Sustainable processes
Sustainability is one of the defining challenges of our time, and the UK’s water networks will have to be heavily altered to ensure they meet long-term environmental requirements. This transition will involve a great number of projects, and each one of those individual projects will be scrutinised in terms of environmental impact.
The water industry will therefore have to be very careful about choosing the right partners and equipment that reflect its environmental goals. Whether it’s the materials used or the mobile welfare units employed on site, every aspect of a project’s value chain must minimise carbon emissions and all other negative externalities.
4. Climate unpredictability
The UK’s unpredictable weather has always created a challenge for water providers. But as climate change occurs and weather patterns become even more erratic – not to mention more extreme – these challenges are getting worse.
In 2022, severe heat waves forced providers to ask customers to ration their water usage.⁹ Incidents like this are likely to become more frequent – as is disruptive flooding. Compounded by projections that the UK population is likely to increase by 20% over the next two decades,¹⁰ navigating increasing weather uncertainty and risk will be a defining challenge for the water sector.
While innovations like demand management will no doubt contribute, water companies will inevitably have to become more agile and flexible in their responses to weather-related problems. This requires partners like Welfare Hire that can assist in faster, more reliable servicing, providing strategic equipment across the country with unparalleled speed and expert support.