Corporate Responsibility

How we're adapting.

Last reviewed:
Our business is sensitive to weather and we have to deal with whatever weather happens on a daily basis. This includes the impacts of severe weather, which are real, and can be seen almost every week. As a result, we’re concerned about the future impact of weather and climate change on our business, and what they mean for our customer service.

The impacts of climate change may often seem a long way off, but in simple terms they’re just a long term shift in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather. Over the past few years alone, there have been several extreme weather events which have all significantly affected our ability to deliver our service to our customers, including:
  • Late February and early March 2018 – ‘The Beast from the East’
  • October 2016 to March 2017 - the driest period since 1995/96
  • In 2014 - the wettest English winter since 1766
  • The floods of 2013/14
  • In 2012 - the wettest summer for 100 years
  • Drought in 2010/12

Since 2010 we’ve put a lot of effort into improving our understanding of how climate change could affect our ability to deliver our services to our customers. We published a detailed review of the potential impacts in 2015/16 which indicated that our key issues are still broadly associated with either too much or too little water. This challenge is reflected in the performance commitments (agreed with our regulator Ofwat) included in our current business planning period which ends in 2020, which you can see in the table below:

Performance and commitment code Performance commitment Amount of customer service with additional flood resilience Performance 2020 target
WB8 Increase flooding resilience of water service – we will improve our ability to continue to supply customers with clean water during flooding events Megalitres per day 4 1,015
WC2 Reduce leakage Megalitres per day 695 606
SB7 Increase flooding resilience of wastewater service – we will improve our ability to continue to transport and treat wastewater during flooding events Population equivalent 537,700 1,700,000
SB5 Hectares disconnected from mains drainage (twenty4twenty) No. Hectares 0 20

We’re working hard to protect our sites from flooding. All our residual work has moved into delivery phase from April 2018 and the forecasts for 2018/19 and 2019/20 are in line with our delivery programme.

The way we’ve set out our work, with the majority planned for year 4, means that there’s enough time for delivery of the scope and any further remedial actions if necessary to be delivered by the end of AMP. We’ve delivered schemes at two wastewater sites this year, Maple Lodge and Chesham, which cover 537,700 population equivalents between them, so that they now have a flood resilience standard of a 1 in 200 year event.

Our approach has evolved over time - from one mainly focused on modelled projections of possible futures, such as the UKCP09 projections, to one which also tries to understand the potential impacts of weather and climate change on our activities and challenges our assumptions about climate change and risk.

In 2016 we produced a short report and a number of illustrative case studies which describe our progress in responding to climate change between 2010 and 2015. Click here to read the report and case studies. We’ll update on our progress in 2020.