CEC Logo

What about water?

The water market in England was deregulated for business consumers in April 2017 (in Scotland from 2008), and since that point businesses have been able to choose their supplier and renegotiate contracts and billing arrangements for the supply of water to their commercial premises.

At the moment, the market for water remains relatively small compared to that of other utilities such as electricity and gas but this doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to save your business money or find a service better suited to your requirements when it comes to your business water bills.

There are around 40 retailers and 25 wholesalers operational within the UK water market, so as a business you have a choice and looking at your options could bring better value than your incumbent supplier.

How you are charged for water

Business water users are charged in one of two ways; they are either metered or have consumption billed against an assessed volume or rateable value. Having said that, it is becoming increasingly unusual to see any business user charged on a non-metered basis.

If you have a metered supply, you will be paying a standing charge linked to the size of your incoming supply in addition to a volume charge for water in and out based on overall consumption, usually as £’s per cubic metre. For business premises that are non-metered, consumption may be assessed based on business type and staff numbers or may be charged against the rateable value of your commercial premises.

Although not always shown in detail on water supply invoices, regardless of whether a supply is metered or not, the overall charge you pay can be broken down into 4 key elements:

  1. Water supply – for supplying water to your premises
  2. Wastewater – for removing used water
  3. Surface area drainage – for removing rainwater from your premises
  4. Highway drainage – your contribution towards maintaining drains in the roads surrounding your property

Depending on your circumstances and with the right advice, there are options to review and reduce costs in all 4 areas.

Water metering

Businesses can opt to have AMRs (Automatic Meter Readers) fitted to provide visibility of hourly water consumption across their property portfolio. Doing this means that excess consumption can be quickly identified, and this can help spot leaks or highlight water wastage. As part of our consultation process when reviewing water costs with clients, we frequently recommend installation of AMR. The benefit soon becomes clear and they invariably pay for themselves very quickly via consumption savings.

Water conservation

Water is a finite resource and as such we should all carefully consider what we can do to use less of it and use it more efficiently. If your company is looking to be environmentally conscious, then ensuring you have policies in place that cover water and energy consumption can be a good place to start.

Each person in the UK uses around 143 litres of water each day and this includes a multitude of uses such as cooking, cleaning, drinking and so reducing water consumption and making even small changes can have an impact. Here is an informative article on why we should all be concerned about water.

Useful links


Water & sewage rates

Open Water