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Water industry in the UK - Statistics & Facts

The UK water industry is responsible for collecting, treating, and delivering billions of liters of clean and safe water every day. It also delivers wastewater services by collecting and treating sewage before returning it safely back into the environment. These services are provided by regional water utilities, though the structure and regulations vary across the country.

UK water companies

In Scotland, water and sewerage services are provided by one publicly-owned company – Scottish Water. In Northern Ireland, these same services are provided by the government-owned Northern Ireland Water. The water and wastewater sector in England and Wales differs, having moved from the public sector to the private sector in 1989. There are currently 10 private regional water and sewerage companies and 13 smaller “water only” companies in England and Wales. Two of the leading water utilities in the UK are Thames Water and United Utilities, which reported sales revenues of 2.1 and 1.08 billion British pounds in 2021, respectively. Thames Water is the largest water utility and serves 15 million customers in the South East of England. Thames Water had the lowest customer satisfaction of UK water companies in 2020.

Water usage

The average person in the UK uses 142 liters of water per day. Scotland has the highest daily water usage per person, at 165 liters, while England and Wales have the lowest at 142 liters. Daily household water consumption is typically lower for customers with a water meter, at an average of 129 liters. In comparison, un-metered customers use an average of 171 liters per person per day. Water usage also varies by company, with un-metered customers of South West water-consuming 284 liters per person per day. On average, customers of South West Water also pay the highest rates for their combined household water and sewerage bill, at 506 British pounds.

Environmental impacts of the water sector

UK water companies have come under increased criticism in recent years due to the impacts they have on the environment. Water companies often release untreated sewage into rivers and seas. As a result, many rivers in England fail to meet good ecological standards. In 2020, water companies discharged raw sewage into English waters for more than three million hours. That same year, South West Water and Southern Water were responsible for the most pollution incidents caused by water companies. Southern Water was fined a record 90 million British pounds in July 2021 for dumping up to 21 billion liters of sewage into protected seas between 2010 and 2020. It has been announced that water companies will be investing 2.7 billion British pounds into environmental improvements as part of the UK’s post-COVID green economic recovery.

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 24 most important statistics relating to "Water industry in the UK".


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