News and Events

A drop of knowledge from Simon: a look at the responsibilities of the water retailer and water wholesaler


In our last blog, Michelle talked about the water market deregulation that happened in April 2017, and how this has changed how water is procured. She also explained that water companies have been split into wholesalers and retailers and that customers now procure their water through a retailer.

I previously worked for Seven Trent, and joined Water Plus 12 months ago. As Head of Contract Management and Procurement, it’s been really exciting to be part of the separation journey. 

I work with wholesalers across the UK and MOSL (the organisation that operates the open water market) to ensure the new market arrangements are working to the benefit of our customers. My primary objective is to make sure wholesalers provide an excellent service for our customers, whether this is ensuring a continuous supply of water, repairing a leak or replacing a water meter. 

One of the advantages of the open water market is that customers with sites around the country can deal with just one retailer and we’ll deal with all the wholesalers on your behalf. There are 22 wholesalers in the market and I deal with many of those on a daily basis and they’ve all got slightly different ways of doing things.

It’s a really challenging  time in the industry and the dynamics between wholesaler and retailers are still developing, and I know it can be confusing for customers. So I thought it would be helpful to outline our respective responsibilities.

Wholesaler responsibilities:

Wholesalers are responsible for the supply of clean water, taking away and cleaning wastewater, maintaining reservoirs and the infrastructure of pipes and sewers. Basically they look after the network of pipes, reservoirs and treatment works to ensure that businesses get the clean water they need, and that any wastewater is removed and treated. They are also responsible for:

  • Managing network issues, such as burst pipes or blocked sewers
  • Installation of new water meters
  • Changing the location of a water meter
  • Alterations to the size of a water meter
  • Repair or replacement of a faulty or damaged water meter
  • Responding to queries on the level of consumption
  • Responding to a leakage claim
  • Conducting a meter accuracy test

It’s worth noting that wholesalers don’t look after the pipework on, or within, your property. I’ve attached a link to show you which bit is your responsibility. One of the benefits of being a Water Plus customer is that if you have an emergency we can help sort it out. 

Retailer responsibilities:

Water retailers provide the following services:

  • We issue the bills and collect payment for your water and/or wastewater services
  • We manage your queries with the wholesalers. So for instance, if you need a new meter, have a leakage claim or a complaint about water quality, we will raise the work with the Wholesalers on your behalf and see this through to conclusion
  • We obtain meter readings and supplying them into the water market’s central database
  • Some water retailers, like Water Plus, also offer a range of value added services as well to help you with water efficiency, leak detection and repair and contingency planning/emergency water.

The Water Plus team will be at the Water Event, held at the NEC from the 12 – 14 September. We’ll be presenting on a number of topics and explaining how the open water market affects business customers. We’d love to answer any questions you may have. You’ll find us at the Water Café and at stand number 4C14, come over and say hello.

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