About the new market

The Water Act 2014 established the framework to create a market that will allow 1.2 million businesses and other non-household customers of providers based mainly or wholly in England to choose their supplier of water and waste water services from April 2017. Retail services include things like billing and customer services. 

The new market will be the largest retail water market in the world, delivering around £200 million of overall benefit to customers and the UK economy.

The market will work in much the same way as in other utility services - and link with the existing market in Scotland - where a range of suppliers compete for customers by offering them the best deal. The suppliers will buy wholesale services from the former monopoly suppliers. They will then package them with other value-adding services for their customers at competitive prices. Investors and retailers will have new opportunities for growth. And the environment will benefit from customers using new water efficient services.

About Open Water

Open Water is a programme of work that brings together all of the key organisations to design and deliver the new market by April 2017. These organisations include the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Ofwat and Market Operator Services Ltd (MOSL) - a private company owned by market participants.

The programme is co-ordinating the development of the framework, systems and key documents (codes, processes and agreements) that are necessary for an effective market.

Open Water is using a collaborative approach for setting up the new market, drawing on the expertise of market participants, new entrants and other stakeholders to design and implement a market that:   

  • increases choice for customers,
  • encourages better levels of service and more tailored prices
  • drives sustainable approaches to managing our water and waste water.

Find out more about the key documents that will govern the competitive retail market (the ‘Market Architecture Plans’ or MAPs).

Business customers

From April 2017, all business customers and public sector, charitable and not-for-profit organisations of providers based mainly or wholly in England will be able to choose their water and sewerage retailer.

Being able to switch water and sewerage service supplier will mean that businesses are able to negotiate the best package that suits their needs. This includes:

  • more efficient customer service and better-tailored packages,
  • water efficiency advice,
  • price.

Read more about the benefits for customers.