Introducing Institute of Water Social Purpose Week 2021

The UK water sector delivers the most fundamental public service: it provides reliable, resilient, safe and good quality water and wastewater services for everyone.

Now, as the sector faces the challenges of climate change and greater demand from population growth, it is also expected to do the right things for customers and the environment.

When Ofwat published its Time to act, together strategy in 2019 it stated: “Companies will need to be run with a clear purpose, adding wider public value for customers and communities as well as for shareholders.”

One aspect of our Business Plan at the Institute of Water is to improve the brand of the water industry, particularly its social purpose. We recognised that a number of organisations had already made statements on social purpose and we agreed to showcase what has been done, with the aims of raising awareness, sharing best practice and challenging members to find out more about their own company.

The Institute of Water ran a feature on Social Purpose in the Autumn issue of our quarterly Magazine; this week we will hear from a range of sector stakeholders, starting with Northumbrian Water.


In July former Institute of Water President Heidi Mottram, CEO of Northumbrian Water, emailed the Institute of Water to share their new-style annual ‘Our Purpose Report‘, which tells the story of the rich community and environmental contribution made by Northumbrian Water.

They have defined their purpose as:

Caring for the essential needs of our communities and environment, now and for generations to come. We do this by providing reliable and affordable water and wastewater services for our customers. We make a positive difference by operating efficiently and investing prudently, to maintain a sustainable and resilient business.

The Report features a series of case studies that bring to life how they have lived their purpose over the last 12 months, including Bin the Wipe – a campaign to reduce sewer flooding incidents and environmental impact by influencing customer behaviour – which we featured in a recent webinar.

We asked Heidi if she would be willing to share with us the thinking behind the purpose statement and report and she obliged by producing a powerful video which must make every one of her employees proud to work for Northumbrian Water. As Heidi says in the video: “It is an outward expression of who we are as a business and, although we may change and adapt, we will never stop living our purpose.” You can watch the video HERE.

We hope you enjoy the video and the insights over the course of the week and they help you appreciate what you and your company are doing to serve society.

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