Water & Wastewater Treatment

WWT January 2018

Water & Wastewater Treatment Magazine

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Page 16 of 39

www.wwtonline.co.uk | WWT | XXXX 20XX | 17 Getting connected The Works I t's a common complaint that the UK is not building enough houses to support its growth, and so anything that can be done to remove barriers to new development is likely to appeal to the country's policymakers. A small but important part of this agenda will be taken forward in April 2018 when water companies must implement the new charging rules imposed by Ofwat. The utilities each need to publish on their website a fixed, upfront schedule of fees that they charge for laying mains and time it took for water companies to quote and carry out work, and of procedures which were anti-competitive: developers who might have wanted to lay mains themselves or pay a third party to do so were put off because of water company actions that were perceived as obstructive. Ofwat's new charging rules make a clear distinction between charges for work that needs to be done on site to lay new assets (requisition charges) and those for work to enhance and reinforce the wider network (infrastructure charges). By making water companies go public about exactly how they calculate their requisition charges, the rule change will encourage competition because developers will be able to work out themselves what the requisition charge would be and find out if they could get a better deal from a third party such as a self-lay provider or NAV (New Appointments and Variations). Meanwhile, although network improvements will still be ultimately funded by developers through the infrastructure charge, this is a flat rate, regulated charge levied on all new connections over the five-year AMP period, putting the onus on water companies to work out the likely extent of such work in advance and to invest the money they receive efficiently. www.wwtonline.co.uk | WWT | JANUARY 2018 | 17 Reforms to the way that water companies charge for new connections are the most visible element of a drive from Ofwat to make water companies provide a better service to developers. So what are the changes about and will they work? By James Brockett Improving the service given by utilities to developers is seen as important to promote housebuilding pipes that connect new buildings and housing developments to their network. It's one significant step in a process to get water companies to provide better service to developers. Other reforms on their way include a new Code for Adoption Agreements (to smooth the process when developers lay assets themselves and want to get them adopted by the water company) and a new measure of developer experience (DMEX) which will incentivise or penalise water companies for their customer service to developers a"er the PR19 price review. For some critics of the industry in the construction sector, it is not before time. Housebuilders have had many complaints over the years about the service they receive from water companies when connecting up new properties. These include a lack of predictability: charges o"en cover work away from the development site (such as mains reinforcement and enhancement) which are hard to anticipate and over which the developer has no control. Other common gripes include a lack of consistency between water companies, and a lack of transparency – with charges calculated using arcane formulae which le" developers scratching their heads about what they were paying for. Finally, there were complaints about the length of

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