Our ambitions Ambition three

Maintaining current levels of service through our existing asset base

Our customers have told us that they value the reliability and quality of the service we provide and want this to continue. To maintain our current service levels, we:

  • Operate and manage our treatment works and networks every day of the year.
  • Ensure our assets are routinely maintained in order to maximise their lifespan.
  • Have first class response and recovery capabilities, which avoid or minimise any disruption to our service when incidents, such as a burst water main, occur.
  • Replace or refurbish assets when they near the end of their lifespan.

To achieve our ambition of delivering increasingly reliable, resilient and sustainable services, we need to further improve our understanding of our assets; be leaders in asset management; and significantly increase investment in this area over the next 15 years.

Understanding long term maintenance needs

Ageing assets present a challenge across all developed economies. If the water industry continues to replace its assets at the current rate, these assets will need to last for hundreds of years, which is widely considered to be unrealistic. Climate change and population growth will put our existing assets under further pressure, increasing the need to replace or upgrade them. The estimated cost of replacing all our assets is around £70 billion*, and it is likely our assets have an average lifespan of around 100 years.

This means we would need to invest around £700m every year just to prevent the condition of our assets from deteriorating. This is more than double what we currently spend on capital maintenance.

However, as we are determined to keep customer prices low, we are actively seeking new technologies and strategic approaches to reduce the cost of replacing our assets.

We welcome the opportunity to work with the Water Industry Commission’s advisory panel and the OECD to learn from other sectors and examples of worldwide best practice that we can incorporate into our own.

* This represents equivalent replacement cost of our asset stock.

Understanding our assets

To better understand the condition, performance and criticality of our assets, and how much maintenance they will need, we will expand our asset inspection and monitoring programme.

Through developments in digital and sensors we will capture and store key information about our assets in real time. We will refine how we predict our maintenance requirements, based on the knowledge of our assets as well as external factors like ground conditions and changes in climate.

Our approach to asset management

We are moving towards an industry-leading, planned and predictable maintenance regime. To enable us to make the right maintenance decisions at the right time, we will continue to:

  • Use leading practice in our asset management activities.
  • Improve the capability of our systems and people.
  • Develop our ability to analyse data.
  • Build better costing tools.
  • Embrace innovations in asset inspections and monitoring.