Redefining our Social Purpose

On Day Two of the Institute of Water’s Social Purpose week we are featuring CCW and the views of their CEO, Emma Clancy, on Social Purpose.

Water is one of life’s essentials, and the services offered by water and sewerage companies are an essential part of our everyday lives. But these aren’t services that we can choose, and how we experience them depends on where we live.

Because of this, water companies have an important role to play, not only in the practical sense of keeping the taps running and taking away our waste, but also in the broader sense of protecting the communities they serve as well as the environment on which the water depends.

The role of water companies as custodians of the natural environment looks set to continue as a priority for customers. Our recent Public Views on the Water Environment research revealed that future customers (that is, those who had not yet paid a water or sewerage bill) were likely to prioritise the environment more highly than current bill payers.

But what we also know is that there’s a lack of connection between people and their water. 41% of people living in parts of England where water resources are under the most pressure told us they think that water is plentiful where they live. That’s despite more regions than ever before being classed as seriously water-stressed by the Environment Agency.

As such, the water sector has a crucial role to play in helping people make that link between their water use and protecting the wider environment that depends on it. There are many good regional initiatives, but what we need to see is a stronger effort from the industry as a whole to take a joint, consistent and sustained approach to raising awareness of water efficiency across England and Wales.But what we also know is that there’s a lack of connection between people and their water. 41% of people living in parts of England where water resources are under the most pressure told us they think that water is plentiful where they live. That’s despite more regions than ever before being classed as seriously water-stressed by the Environment Agency.

The collective, industry-wide effort we’re currently seeing in tackling water poverty is a great example of where working together to tackle a common problem can help the water industry to earn public trust, proving our ability to collaborate where it really counts.

And as the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words. In 2019, water companies signed up to a common Public Interest Commitment, pledging to do more, “not just to improve services, but also to play a full role in tackling wider social and environmental challenges”. In holding ourselves accountable for delivery and taking meaningful action to make a tangible difference, we as an industry can show the people we serve that we’re serious about delivering true social value.

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