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Ofwat chief highlights priorities at water gathering

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Ofwat’s new interim chief executive has set out six key areas of focus to help drive change in water, telling industry representatives “we can’t simply build our way out of the challenges in front of us”.
David Black was keynote speaker at British Water’s Gather Together reception. Addressing the audience of British Water supply chain and water company members and other industry stakeholders, Black praised the resilience and achievements of the sector, which “has not stood still” through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Looking forward, he said the scale of change needed to address the effects of climate change, achieve net zero carbon, deliver for customers and the environment, while keeping bills affordable, was significant.
He said: “If we look ahead to 2050, we know a step-change in outcomes is required. We’re looking to swiftly improve drought resilience and to reduce abstraction from over-stressed water sources, such as chalk streams, to reduce leakage by 50% or more, to drive down per capita consumption to 110 litres per day.
“It is going to require a water sector that delivers for customers, it needs to keep bills affordable, and put the environment right at the heart of everything it does and that’s going to require transformational change for all of us.”
Black said while the sector was making major investments in infrastructure projects such as new reservoirs, water transfer and reuse schemes, a bigger challenge would be to “change the culture of the sector and ways of working”.
Black went on to outline how Ofwat is also adapting, to align with the sector’s transformation.
“The traditional focuses on investment, efficiency and improving asset health will remain important. The transformation will lie in working effectively with customers and communities; the innovation in enhancing and harnessing the power of digital and tech.”
He highlighted the regulator’s £2.8 billion (€3.2 billion) green recovery programme, announced in May 2021, the launch of industry collaboration RAPID to promote an integrated approach to the development of water resources, the direct procurement for customers (DPC) project delivery model and the £200 million innovation fund as examples of new initiatives.