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The Open Water Market

From April 2017 businesses will be able to choose their water supplier as part of a significant overhaul of the water industry, under the Water Act 2014 (WA14).  Market Operator Services Ltd (MOSL), Ofwat and DEFRA are working as partners under the name ‘Open Water’ to instigate and regulate a new open market for water supply and sewerage services for businesses across England.

At present, only those exceeding 5 million litres per year in England and 50 Million Litres per year in Wales have been able to choose their supplier.

What’s Changing from April 2017?

Under the new regime, in England there will no longer be a minimum yearly consumption requirement for ‘Non-household customers’ (businesses) in order to qualify for the ability to change supplier. In Wales, businesses will still be required to evidence a minimum consumption of 50 million litres per annum to be eligible.

This system is envisaged to work in a similar fashion to that of utility suppliers where the commodity, water in this case, can be purchased by the consumer from multiple suppliers instead of a specified company such as; Yorkshire Water, Anglian Water or Severn Trent Water, depending on the service catchment area. The physical commodity does not change, simply the supplier.

In the first instance, when market participants (consumers) are assessing eligibility to utilise the new water market, they should first look at how the local government classifies their property in terms of Council Tax and the Business Rates under the Local Government Finance Act 1988 (as amended).

Those which are assessed as non-domestic properties are likely to qualify and those which are assessed as domestic properties are not. However, it is advised properties are being considered on a case-by-case basis.

What does this mean for Rural businesses?

Recently published guidance would indicate that a Farm, although serving both as a place of business and as a home, is principally a business. Therefore, it should be considered a ‘non-household’ property. Guidance on eligibility can be found at;

Declan Oddy, Trainee Surveyor, GSC Grays


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