Water Services Regulation Authority



, type = , nativename = , nativename_a = , nativename_r = , logo = Ofwat logo.svg , logo_width = 150px , logo_caption = , seal = , seal_width = , seal_caption = , picture = , picture_width = , picture_caption = , formed = , preceding1 = Office of Water Services , dissolved = , superseding = , jurisdiction = England and Wales , headquarters = Centre City Tower, 7 Hill Street, Birmingham, B5 4UA , region_code = GB , coordinates = , employees = 226 , budget = £19.1 million (2011-2012) , minister1_name = , minister1_pfo = , chief1_name = David Black , chief1_position = Chief Executive , chief2_name = , chief2_position = , chief3_name = , chief3_position = , chief4_name = , chief4_position = , chief5_name = , chief5_position = , agency_type =
Non-ministerial government department Non-ministerial government departments (NMGDs) are a type of department of the United Kingdom government that deal with matters for which direct political oversight has been judged unnecessary or inappropriate. They are headed by senior civil s ...
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Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is a department of His Majesty's Government responsible for environmental protection, food production and standards, agriculture, fisheries and rural communities in the United ...
, parent_agency = , child1_agency = , keydocument1 = , website = , footnotes = , map = , map_width = , map_caption = The Water Services Regulation Authority, or Ofwat, is the body responsible for economic regulation of the privatised
water Water (chemical formula ) is an inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of Earth's hydrosphere and the fluids of all known living organisms (in which it acts as a ...
and sewerage industry in
England England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. It is separated from continental Europe by t ...
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, the Celtic Sea to the south west and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in ...
. Ofwat's main statutory duties include protecting the interests of consumers, securing the long-term resilience of water supply and wastewater systems, and ensuring that companies carry out their functions and are able to finance them. Ofwat primarily sets limits on the prices charged for water and sewerage services, taking into account proposed capital investment schemes (such as building new
wastewater treatment Wastewater treatment is a process used to remove contaminants from wastewater and convert it into an effluent that can be returned to the water cycle. Once returned to the water cycle, the effluent creates an acceptable impact on the environm ...
works) and expected operational efficiency gains. The most recent review was carried out in 2014; reviews are carried out every five years, with the next due to take place in December 2019. The Water Act 2014 extended retail competition to all non-household customers of English water companies from April 2017 and provided for possible future competition in
wholesale Wholesaling or distributing is the sale of goods or merchandise to retailers; to industrial, commercial, institutional or other professional business users; or to other wholesalers (wholesale businesses) and related subordinated services. In ...
markets. Ofwat's role includes regulating such water and wastewater markets and promoting effective competition wherever appropriate. Ofwat consists of a board, plus an office of staff which carries out work delegated to them by the board. The
Environment Agency The Environment Agency (EA) is a non-departmental public body, established in 1996 and sponsored by the United Kingdom government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with responsibilities relating to the protection and enh ...
is responsible for environmental regulation, and the Drinking Water Inspectorate for regulating drinking water quality. Water in Northern Ireland is regulated by the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation, and the supply and treatment is carried out by the government-owned Northern Ireland Water. There is no separate charge for water for residents or companies in Northern Ireland. Instead, water is paid for by the rates system. The
water industry The water industry provides drinking water and wastewater services (including sewage treatment) to residential, commercial, and industrial sectors of the economy. Typically public utilities operate water supply networks. The water industry do ...
regulator in
Scotland Scotland (, ) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a border with England to the southeast and is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the ...
is the Water Industry Commission for Scotland.


Ofwat was set up in 1988, at the same time as 10 water authorities in England and Wales were privatised by flotation on the stock market. Its duties and powers are defined by the Water Industry Act 1991. The resulting companies are known as "water and sewerage companies"; this distinguishes them from around a dozen smaller companies which only provide water services, which were already in private hands in 1989 (having remained in private ownership since their creation in the 19th century). The water-only companies provide water to around 25% of the population in England and Wales. Before 1 April 2006, all regulatory powers rested with the Director General of Water Services. The staff who supported the role of the Director General were collectively known as the "Office of Water Services", which was abbreviated to "Ofwat". Ian Byatt was the Director General between 1989 and 2000; Philip Fletcher was Director General until 2006 and chairman until 2012. On 1 April 2006, the Director General was replaced by the Water Services Regulation Authority. The name "Office of Water Services" is no longer used, as it had no legal basis.

Key people

The current chairman is Jonson Cox, who took up his position in November 2012. The current interim chief executive (effective April 2021) is David Black, replacing Rachel Fletcher who was chief executive from January 2018. Iain Coucher will succeed Cox as chairman in July 2022.

Price reviews

Every five years, Ofwat set limits on the prices which water companies in England and Wales can charge to their customers; this process is known as a price review or periodic review. Ofwat has carried out six price reviews so far – in 1994 (PR94), 1999 (PR99), 2004 (PR04), 2009 (PR09), 2014 (PR14) and 2019 (PR19). The most recent, PR19, set price limits for 2020–2025. Ofwat sets a so-called "K factor" in companies' licences which determine the average value of price rises above the rate of inflation ( RPI) for the next five year asset management plan period.

See also

* List of United Kingdom water companies * Water supply and sanitation in England and Wales


External links

* {{Authority control Water supply and sanitation in England and Wales Water in Wales Regulators of the United Kingdom 2006 establishments in the United Kingdom Organizations established in 2006