We are one of the largest 11 regulated water and sewerage companies in England and Wales. We provide high quality services to around 4.3 million households and business in the Midlands. Our region stretches across the heart of England, from the Bristol Channel to the Humber and Chester, and from Shropshire to the East Midlands.
How your money is spent
Our average household bill for water and sewerage is £356 per year, or just 98 pence per day. And we’re proud to say that this was the lowest combined bill across the whole of England in 2019/20.
Our performance this year
Overview of our performance
2019/20 was a pivotal year for us as we completed a number of major commitments to our customers. It was a year where our environment and resilience programmes came to the fore as we finalised our multi-year capital programmes. During the year we invested around £800m as we completed construction of some of the largest capital investment programmes we’ve ever had. In part this contributed to Environment Agency restoring our industry leading 4 star EPA status (the Environmental Performance Assessment is the Environment Agency’s annual review of water company performance; 4 star is the top grade).
We’re committed to taking care of one of life’s essentials, and that includes protecting it for future generations. We completed the construction of our Birmingham Resilience Programme ensuring water for England’s second largest city, innovative solutions at our Rugby and Finham wastewater treatment works which will secure capacity for those catchments in to the future at a fraction of the cost of traditional solutions and completion of a further 13 partnership schemes working with local authorities and flood management agencies to reduce the risk of multiple types of flooding for our communities.
It’s also been a big year for the environment as we completed the Water Industry National Environment Programme (WINEP) improving the quality of over 1,600km of river. We’ve improved the biodiversity of over 200 hectares of land and river in sites of special scientific interest and getting a great start to our Great Big Nature Boost as we build our ambition to improve 5,000 hectares of land in our region by 2027. We also reported the lowest number of category three pollution incidents in a decade.
We have made some significant improvements in measures that are most important to our customers. This includes a 62% year on year reduction in supply interruptions and a 4% improvement in leakage, bringing the five-year improvement in leakage to 10%. Our water quality improvement programme continues to deliver with a further 14% decrease in drinking water quality complaints. Despite this we narrowly missed our target and didn’t meet the level of overall water quality we wanted (MZC).
Our wastewater service has traditionally been a strong area for us during AMP6. We recognised this when we locked in those benefits for our customers and agreed to set more stretching targets on sewer flooding and pollution incidents from 2019 through to 2024/25. We were confident that we could continue to meet these targets for our customers but the extreme weather conditions we have experienced during 2019/20 have led to us missing both the internal and external sewer flooding commitments.
Operating conditions for the year
The last 12 months have been some of the wettest on record for our region which has resulted in the wastewater service being put under real pressure.
The summer of 2019 was the second wettest since 1910. Rainfall during October led to flooding across the Midlands up to the border with Wales. The River Wye saw record levels and it was reported that at the end of October the entire stretch of the River Severn was covered by flood warnings throughout our Shropshire, Worcester and Gloucester counties.
During November and December the rainfall continued leading to the River Avon topping its banks and flooding agricultural land throughout Gloucestershire and Worcester. In other parts of our region we experienced the wettest autumn on record, with Nottinghamshire especially impacted.
In early 2020 a succession of Atlantic storm systems hit the UK. Named storms Ciara, Denis and Jorge brought record breaking rainfall to the country with most of our regions seeing more than 250% the monthly average. On the whole the Met Office reported that February was the fifth wettest since 1862. The storms hit our region in quick succession leading to both the Rivers Wye and Severn being at their highest ever recorded levels and further flooding across the Midlands.
We recognise that it is our role to ensure our service is as resilient as possible to all shocks including extreme weather. We continue to look for new ways to protect our customers through our Green Communities and Collaborative Flood Resilience measures.
Below you can see how we performed against some of our key measures. You can also find out about our performance and some of the great things we’ve done in your area by viewing individual counties.