Teri Humphries, Category Manager for Utilities and Services at Beacon, takes a look at what your business needs to know about water, ahead of the deregulation of supply in April 2017 for businesses in England.
The subject of water has never been more topical, with growing concerns over climate change and water sustainability along with water safety, following widespread media coverage about Legionella outbreaks in hotels. Find the latest information, hints and tips below with expert advice from Beacon suppliers.
Water deregulation: what is it and what does it mean for businesses?
The commercial water market in Scotland has been deregulated since April 2008. Essentially, deregulation aims to introduce more competition into the water market, which will ultimately increase incentives for suppliers to reduce costs or improve services.
Since 2013, one of Beacon’s partner companies, The Energy Desk, has worked with water companies that entered the market post-deregulation in Scotland, in order to drive business growth and prepare for any future changes. Based on figures from The Energy Desk, the average saving for a business that had never changed supplier but searched the market and consequently made the move, was 15%.
Full deregulation is planned to be implemented in England in April 2017. The competitive marketplace isn’t yet fully evolved, but it is clear that changes are on the way as the 2017 deadline approaches, with wholesalers recognising the need to be capable of contracting with retailers quickly, fairly and transparently.
For businesses in England, this will mean that they have the same power as Scottish businesses to choose which company supplies them with water, wastewater and drainage services, along with more power to negotiate costs and contracts.
With utilities contracts often being long-term, we are encouraging businesses to plan ahead for full deregulation in order to make maximum savings and capitalise on the competitive pricing that will inevitably occur.
According to a recent study 365 trillion litres of water could be saved by the EU’s hotel business every year. Furthermore, according to figures from the British Hospitality Association and the MET office, water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of the population increase throughout the last century. This means that, by 2050, 65% of the world’s population will be exposed to water stress at some level.
Taking a more sustainable approach to water doesn’t only benefit a business’ bottom line, but also has knock on effects for the wider community. Research from the Environment Agency has shown that many businesses pay higher water costs than necessary, and by putting simple water management measures in place, they could reduce water consumption by up to 80%.
Beacon’s water management tips
- Monitor and compare your water usage on a regular basis, identifying any unexplained increases or seasonal variations in order to combat them. Assess and evaluate your efficiency, putting plans into action.
- Ensure you have the support of your management and staff when it comes to tackling water efficiencies. Consider developing a dedicated team and encourage them to report any leaks or faults so they can be repaired quickly.
- When buying new equipment, always take its water efficiency into account. Also, always ensure all pipes and equipment are well insulated against frost to avoid damage.
- Look at alternative sources like rainwater and grey water; wastewater generated from domestic activities. Beacon suppliers can work with you to explore different water sources and how they will benefit your business.
- Fit water minimising controls in high usage areas, such as washrooms. Push taps, flow regulators, cistern displacement devices, low flush toilets and sensor activated flushing are all effective methods of reducing water consumption.
In recent years, water safety has hit the headlines internationally, with the Legionella outbreak at the Opera House Hotel in New York last year, causing 12 fatalities and 128 guest illnesses. Whilst an extreme case, the story highlights the importance of maintaining a safe and healthy water supply throughout any business.
This year, we welcomed supplier Interserve into the Beacon portfolio, and their impact on customer businesses is already overwhelmingly positive. Working with Interserve, we are able to advise business owners and demystify some of the issues surrounding water safety. Often, the problem is that business owners do not know where the responsibility to be water compliant lies, which is where issues can arise.
Steps toward effective water safety management
- Identify the responsibility structure among key staff members and ensure all staff are clear on the role they play in water safety on site
- Ensure that all external contractors are trained and competent when carrying out work within your business
- Risks or issues should be immediately reported to your internal water safety team, who are given authority to seek external advice if necessary
- Keep a written record of absolutely everything. Logbooks are a simple yet effective way of ensuring all risks and issues and communicated clear.
To find out more about Beacon and our supply partners, and how they can help your business be compliant with regulations - click here or call us on 01904 695588.
 Malta Business Bureau Report 2015 'The potential for energy and water savings within the EU through flow rate regulation and greywater treatment'