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Continuing top performance for Wessex Water

The company provided the highest levels of service in the industry and remains the industry leader in Ofwat's new league table for overall customer satisfaction.  Last year, 98% of customers who contacted Wessex Water rated its service as either 'good' or 'very good'.

During one of the coldest winters for many years the number of water main bursts increased by threefold yet it still managed to cut leakage and met a challenging target set by the industry regulator.

Chairman Colin Skellett said: "Nowhere was our customer service and the dedication of our staff more visible than during the winter of 2010/11.

"Our staff and contractors worked for lengthy periods in demanding conditions to ensure that bursts and leaks were identified and repaired as quickly as possible."

In its annual results published on Friday (10 June) Wessex Water reported on how it had made good progress with the early phases of its new quality and environmental programme which will see around £1bn invested in improving services between 2010 and 2015.

It continued to be one of the most efficient and profitable water and sewerage companies and the savings made over the past five years meant customers' bills were £21, or 5%, lower in 2010-11 than they otherwise would have been.

Mr Skellett said: "While our customers pay slightly higher than average bills due to the rural make up of the area we serve, independent surveys show customers say they get good value for money. And for those who are genuinely unable to pay their bill we are able to offer help through various affordability tariffs."

Wessex Water's achievements over the last year have included:

  • topping Ofwat's new league table for overall customer satisfaction
  • cutting leakage and meeting its new leakage target despite the major increase in bursts caused by the very cold winters this year and last as well as beating its water efficiency target
  • compliance with drinking water standards remaining at very high levels of over 99.9% and compliance with sewage discharge consents at 100%
  • delivering all customer demands for water without restriction
  • 98% of customers who contacted the company rating its service as either 'good' or 'very good'
  • increasing renewable electricity generation by a further 16%
  • For the seventh consecutive year, compliance with the EU's mandatory bathing water standards remained at 100%. Compliance with the guideline, stricter, standard that will come into force in 2015, was 87.2%
  • beating its water efficiency target
  • receiving the Green Apple Award for supporting environmental organisations in the region

Mr Skellett said: "Our sewage treatment quality and improvement programme has seen the completion of schemes to reduce pollution from storm overflows in Weymouth and the installation of equipment at 45 sites to record when storm overflows are operating.

"We were the first water company in the country to publish information through our website showing when storm overflows that affect bathing waters have been in operation. 

"Work on a regional water grid is underway which will improve the security of supply to customers and meet quality and quantity requirements for water over the next 25 years.

"This multi-purpose project will be the largest ever carried out by the company; it will include new trunk mains, new service reservoirs and new and improved pumping stations across Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire."

Mr Skellett said the company was playing its part in shaping the industry for the future by being part of the reform debate with the aim of achieving a sustainable water sector and one that will be able to deal with changes in population, water use and climate.

He said: "We believe a number of key areas need to be addressed and these include fair and sustainable charging that makes water affordable for all and encourages customers to use it wisely

"We believe customers should have a much greater voice in what they want from their local water companies, including the ability to influence prices and discretionary investment."

He warned of uncertainties ahead, among them the doubling of the sewerage network through the transfer of private sewers later this year and worsening customer debt as a result of the fragile economy.

"We will manage and respond to these risks to minimise the impact on our business and on our customers.

"We are committed to operating our business as efficiently as possible and with the contribution of our skilled and dedicated staff we are confident that we will not only continue to do so, but will also maintain our position as industry leaders," Mr Skellett added.

Financial results for the year show that turnover increased from £438.2m to £444.9m, and that profit after tax increased from £112.3m to £115.5m.

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