What We Do


We drive the policy and regulatory agenda across the UK to enable ambitious and innovative water efficiency. We guide, steer and respond to government and regulatory developments across the UK. Often there is no ‘ownership’ of water efficiency issues and we provide the interface between government, regulators, water companies, social enterprises and others.

Here we highlight our recent policy work through strategy development and consultation responses:

Waterwise’s Water Efficiency Strategy for the UK
(June 2017)

The strategy was developed in consultation with the water sector – including Waterwise supporters and the Water UK-supported steering group. It sets out a blueprint to deliver a vision of a UK in which all people, homes and businesses are water- efficient, and where water is used wisely, every day, everywhere. Read more about the strategy and the ongoing work of the Water UK supported Water Efficiency Strategy Steering Group in delivering the actions here.

Response to the National Infrastructure Commission – New Technology Study Second Call for Evidence (Sept 2017)

Water efficiency is a key contributor to resilience, and water companies are currently carrying out large-scale retrofitting and customer engagement programmes. Ofwat and Defra are keen to see greater ambition on water demand management. The Waterwise Water Efficiency Strategy for the UK sets out a range of actions to improve water ef ciency in new developments. Waterwise supports a national and compulsory rollout of smart metering to provide benefits for customer engagement and water efficiency. We have set out barriers to new technologies as well as a range of new technologies identified by Waterwise and in research internationally. Read our full response here.

Response to Ofwat on Delivering Water 2020 – consulting on our methodology for the 2019 price review (Aug 2017)

We set out the need for Ofwat to be clearer in their methodology on how they will deliver Defra’s expectation that Ofwat “promote ambitious action to reduce leakage and per capita consumption”. The response also outlines potential water consumption related common and bespoke performance indicators and what targets in 2019 might look like. Read the full response here.

Response to Welsh Water 2050 (Aug 2017)

We support the Glas Cymru board’s mission statement “to become a truly world class, resilient and sustainable water service for the benefit of future generations”. Water efficiency is a key contributor to resilience, and water companies are currently carrying out large-scale retrofitting and customer engagement programmes. But water efficiency, scaled up even further, is also an invaluable tool in driving customer participation – as well as using water efficiency programmes to get customers to help deliver water savings, it can contribute to multi-layered relationships to help inform, track and improve customer service and outcomes across companies. Read our full response here.

Response to Ofwat consultation on New connections charges for the future – England (Aug 2017)

The proposed changes around income offsets could reduce the ability of incumbent water companies to offer an incentive through reduced or zero developer charges where they install water efficient fittings and fixtures. We suggested this issue needs further consideration as these incentives provide a major opportunity for water companies to manage demand, without wider government regulation on building water efficiency standards. Read the full response here.

Response to Consultation on The Government’s strategic priorities and objectives for Ofwat (April 2017)

We know Ofwat is keen to see larger-scale water efficiency and we supported Defra’s expectation that they “promote ambitious action to reduce leakage and per capita consumption”. The key elements of our response included the need to explicitly support variable infrastructure charging schemes linked to water efficiency for new housing developments; to enable water companies to take risks by working in collaboration with others to achieve better outcomes on water efficiency; for wider policy changes to deliver extended and enhanced water efficiency scenarios; to audit the impact of retail competition on water efficiency services and how this might translate to residential retail competition; to consider the potential contribution of water efficiency in upstream competition; and for third party auditing of business plans and final PR19 determinations for progress on water efficiency. Read our full response here.

Response to Ofwat’s Monitoring the business retail market from April 2017 – a consultation (Feb 2017)

As was highlighted by several stakeholders at our recent Waterwise Retail Competition event, there is a need for better monitoring of these savings in England to ensure the market is working and to provide a stronger evidence base if retail competition includes domestic customers in future. Ofwat’s emerging findings on the costs and benefits of residential competition suggest that water efficiency could have a net benefit of between £98m and £398m. This along with the £177 potential metering benefit would make a large impact on the less innovative and competitive scenarios if not achieved. Read our full response here.

Response to Environmental Audit Committee (March 2018) Heatwaves: Adapting to Climate Change inquiry

The Water UK Long Term Water Resources Planning Framework report identified that a dry climate could treble the risk of experiencing a severe drought in the East of England. We set out a range of actions on a national platform for water efficiency communication, integrated water management, water efficiency labelling, building regulations, and supporting councils on water efficiency.

We gave oral evidence to this inquiry on 15 May 2018. See the video here and transcript here.

Read our full response here.

Response Environmental Audit Committee 25-Year Environment Plan inquiry (Feb 2018)

We welcome the statement “Working with the industry and the group led by the NGO Waterwise to improve water efficiency and customer involvement to explore the impact of introducing new water efficiency measures”. Waterwise will continue to use our Water Efficiency Strategy Steering Group and Water Efficiency and Customer Participation Leadership Group to engage the government and water industry on higher ambition for water efficiency.

We have several recommendations to support Government “Taking forward measures that will make significant water savings where practical and cost effective to do so.”


Read our full response here.

Response to EFRA Committee (June 2018) Regulation of the Water Industry Inquiry 

. Our response is centred on the premise that significantly increased water efficiency in England and Wales will benefit society, the environment and the economy.


2. In our response we set out baseline regulation and delivery on water efficiency, and make recommendations to improve this. We find that the twin track approach is being partly implemented by water companies; ambition needs to increase significantly; and innovation on water efficiency is still currently limited. We also set out opportunities for government to drive ambition across the economy through policy and regulation.


3. Our recommendations are:


A. Government should publish the triennial report on progress on water conservation and set out guidance for water conservation by public authorities.


B. The UK and Welsh Governments should set ambitious targets for personal water consumption to help drive ambition on water efficiency by water companies. We suggest that in both England and Wales this should be 100 litres or less by 2045.


C. UK and Welsh Governments and water regulators should prescribe a presumption of demand management options before supply-side measures.


D: Water companies should be encouraged to innovate further on water efficiency; explore partnership programmes with other sectors; mainstream water efficiency across their business operations and customer base; and work with retail water companies to improve water efficiency for non-households.


E: Government should implement the recommendation in the National Infrastructure Commission Report “Preparing for a drier future” – enable water companies to implement compulsory metering by the 2030s beyond water stressed areas, by amending regulations before the end of 2019 and requiring all companies to consider systematic roll-out of smart meters in a first step in a concentrated campaign to improve water efficiency.


F. Governments and water companies should support Waterwise in developing a coalition of organisations to deliver a UK platform for education on water efficiency.


G: The UK Government should clearly state that it expects water retailers to play their role in ensuring resilient supplies strategically as well as reducing customer bills – including in the public sector such as schools and hospitals – by offering core and widespread water efficiency services.


H: The UK and Welsh Governments, through Innovate UK and research councils, should drive more innovation in smart water management and water efficiency; wholesale and retail water companies should adopt and mainstream innovative approaches to customer engagement and innovative water-efficient products.


I: A comprehensive water efficiency product label in the UK.

We gave oral evidence to this inquiry on 20 June 2018. See the video here and transcript here.

Read our full response here.