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The Water Infrastructure Industry in the UK

26 July 2022

Across England and Wales, fortunately most people now receive their water supply from their regional water company. Over the last 30 years, we have come to expect high standards in water quality and cleanliness since the water industry was privatised in 1989.

It is estimated that here in the UK over 50 million residential and commercial properties receive a quality water supply along with excellent water sanitisation and all the associated drainage services required to run our water systems efficiently and effectively.

But do we ever question exactly how this happens and whether there are further improvements to be made as we head into the future? Is enough being done to protect our water infrastructure?

Illustration of urban water cycle UK water infrastructure
Illustration depicting the urban water cycle and the importance of water infrastructure

So, what exactly is water infrastructure?

When referring to the broad term ‘Water infrastructure’ this largely relates to the systems used to store, treat, pump, transport and deliver the supply of safe water. However, this infrastructure also consists of additional factors like drainage and flood prevention measures along with how our water resources are planned for and managed along with the methods we use to extract our water from source.

Meeting current and future water infrastructure management requirements

Maintaining an effective and resilient water Infrastructure is critical to supply our homes and communities, businesses, and industries with safe water and impacts our environmental health as well as our economic health. The water industry at large and all associated stakeholders are trying to foresee and meet future water supply demands, along with ensuring adequate finance is in place to operate our water supply chain as well as ensuring the capital costs are there to sustain, maintain and create new water infrastructure to make it more resilient and sustainable.

Water going down a drain to show UK Water Infrastructure Industry
Water drainage in a UK street

The state of our water infrastructure assets and supplies

In 25 years, worryingly, the environmental agency has predicted that we will not have sufficient water to meet demand here in the UK.

Water owners and operators recognise that it is essential to understand and optimise the capacity of their assets which is no mean feat.

So, what’s causing this?

• Ageing and inadequate water systems

Many towns now have aging water infrastructures owing to antiquated piping systems which are now ceasing to operate efficiently due to outdated materials and structures that are deteriorating or worse still reaching end of life.

• Pipe leakage and water escape

Pipe leakage is inevitable as pipes age or they get damaged during construction projects, or new land acquisition for building purposes.

According to recent data published by the Public Accounts Committee, they state that some parts of England will run out of water unless we act now. There is mounting pressure for water companies to prioritise dealing with leaking pipes especially considering growing concerns that it is estimated that as much as one fifth or our daily water is wasted through leaking pipes.

• Under investment in water infrastructure management

The UK has some of in the oldest water infrastructure in the world and for years has been neglected. Funding is needed to address the leakage issues and old infrastructure as well as address poor performance issues with water wastage.

• Declines in water quality and quantity

It is estimated that people in the Southeast have significantly reduced water supplies. A holistic approach is required to secure investment, commitment, and action to increase water supply levels and water quality consistently across the UK.

• Major water disasters caused by floods, pollution, and climate change

The impact of climate change is causing extreme weather conditions leading to water source levels increasing across our rivers and lakes which creates flooding and on the flip side water shortages caused by droughts. These conditions pose a significant threat to our water sources making water infrastructure more vulnerable.

UK reservoir water at low level representing water infrastructure challenges
Low water levels in a reservoir during a period of drought

Water Infrastructure Self-Lay Provider (SLP) of Choice

Aquamain are the UK’s largest provider of self-lay water utility services, including mains and plot connections to the UK’s leading housing developers and regional water companies.

We have built a reputation as an industry leader in innovation and act as an effective bridge between the local water company and a developer’s water infrastructure and services plan.

This niche positioning provides us and our sector with huge opportunities as self-lay continues to gain prominence as a service to housing developers.

Whether you need advice, a quotation, help or you just want to talk with someone about the provision of water assets for your Development, the Aquamain team are here to help you – contact us today.

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