1. Introduction

We have set out how we propose to support our customers and communities across Scotland in the decades to come. You, as our customers, are at the heart of our business, and we invite your views on our ambitions and proposals.

We provide vital water and waste water services to nearly every household and business in Scotland. Our drinking water and the quality of Scotland’s water environment are at their best ever levels. Through our work, we make a vital contribution to Scotland’s health, prosperity and the sustainability of our natural environment. As such, our vision is to be trusted to care for the water on which Scotland depends.

In preparing our proposals we have researched customer views on the services we provide and have examined the trends and drivers of change out to the middle of this century.

The world is changing at a dramatic pace and successful businesses of the future will be innovative, resource efficient and low carbon; harnessing the power of technology and the skills of their people and partners. In the following sections we set out how we will embrace digital transformation and innovation, become low carbon and manage the various impacts of climate change.

We are a leading utility and proud that Scottish households trust their water services more than any other consumer sector*. But we are ambitious to do more, and to reach a level where our services are truly reliable and sustainable for future generations. So we have set out three long-term ambitions, on which we welcome your views.

Our ambitions

Delivering a consistently leading customer experience.

Keeping customer prices low by driving for further innovation and efficiency and through smart investment choices.

Increasing the reliability, resilience and sustainability of our services to:

  • Deliver high quality, great tasting drinking water.
  • Provide effective and sustainable collection and treatment of waste water, reduce the rainwater entering sewers and protect Scotland’s water environment.
  • Support the growth in Scotland’s economy, population and households by expanding our networks and infrastructure.
  • Become more resource efficient, low carbon and socially sustainable.
* According to a Which? Consumer insights survey

Our contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals

  • 3 - Good Health and Well Being
  • 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • 8 - Decent work and Economic Growth
  • 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • 13 - Climate Action
  • 14 - Life Below Water
  • 15 - Life on Land

In recent years, household living standards have fallen and the latest economic forecasts suggest they will take a number of years to recover. So we are determined to avoid creating further pressures for our customers by keeping average customer prices low; aiming to limit price rises to the rate of inflation. This is a very stretching ambition against the backdrop of our need to increase significantly the level of asset replacement and maintenance and the external pressures facing us such as climate change. But we are determined to rise to this challenge and earn our customers’ trust for the way that we care for the water on which Scotland depends.

While most of our customers receive a flawless supply of water and waste water services, it is clear that customers have an increasingly low tolerance for service failure because they depend on our essential services at home and in their businesses.

To deliver consistently high quality services to our customers across Scotland we rely on a vast number of assets, including over 2,000 treatment works and an underground pipe network of nearly 100,000 km, which would stretch twice round the world. So it is inevitable that, every day, there is scope for services to be disrupted, especially as our assets age. We are, therefore, a business that will always be managing risk. Our task is to manage and minimise risk, making smart investment choices, to maximise the benefits from the available funding.

Some of our most important choices over the coming decades will be to identify and agree with our customers and regulators which risks we should continue to manage with first class response and recovery and which risks we should aim to minimise through appropriate investment to deliver a truly reliable and resilient service.

In 2015, Scotland was one of the first countries in the world to sign up to the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals and vision to end poverty, hunger, inequality and to protect the environment. We have a part to play and, in this document, we highlight how we can support Scotland’s contribution as a Hydro Nation across the 10 relevant UN goals listed above (you can see all 17 goals at sustainabledevelopment.un.org).

To keep delivering a world class water service we must take a long term view because most of our new investments (and existing assets) will last for many decades. It is essential that we seek to understand the likely future challenges and opportunities, making the right choices to support the needs of both current and future customers.

The next sections set out in more detail what the future might hold, and our proposals for how we can support our customers and communities across Scotland in the decades to come. We look forward to hearing your views.

Douglas Millican

Chief Executive