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About Us


About the programme

The Open Water Programme was set up by the UK Government to deliver the competitive market for water and sewerage services for non-household customers in England by April 2017. Our work is steered by the High Level Group, which includes representatives from the English, Scottish and Welsh Governments and regulators, existing water companies, new entrants and business customers.           

We have organised our work into four workstreams.




1 Codes,   processes and procedures

Ensuring that all of the necessary codes, processes and procedures are agreed and in place to support successful market opening.

2 Market   Operator, central systems and market assurance

Managing the design, development and delivery of the Market Operator in terms of its   roles in governance (e.g. management of the market rules, co-ordination   between participants, codes, budget); and information processing (registration and settlement). Developing and implementing an effective framework for providing assurance in relation to the implementation and operation of the market.

3   Engagement and communications

Developing and implementing the stakeholder engagement principles, strategy and plan such that all stakeholders are well-informed, appropriately involved and support and feel ownership and responsibility for the programme's strategy, direction and pace.

4   Programme management and corporate support

Accountable for planning, budgeting, programme management, financial and progress reporting, resourcing and governance.


We encourage stakeholders’ active participation and publish all relevant papers, consultation documents and notice of stakeholder meetings and workshops on this website.

For more information on the programme please contact Alexa Cauthery at feedback@open-water.org.uk.

Our Plans


We are currently drawing up detailed plans and a critical path for all of the activities that will be required in the lead up to market opening in April 2017. You can see the latest version of the plans here.

We are in the process of discussing these plans with companies in order to develop the appropriate level of detail that adequately addresses company activities and the timescales required.


The Vision


The Open Water programme was created to support the delivery of a retail water market for non-household customers in April 2017. The opening of the market is the cornerstone of the UK Government’s vision for the future of water management in England, as set out in the Water White Paper.

It aims to develop:

  • a resilient water sector, in which water companies are more efficient and customer focused, and in which water is appropriately valued;
  • an improved range and quality of services offered to customers by removing barriers to competition, fostering innovation and efficiency, and encouraging new businesses to enter the market;
  • markets where all participants operate on a level playing field; and
  • a more sustainable use of resources and keener pricing for customers.

Success Criteria


The High Level Group established a set of criteria against which the success of the new arrangements will be measured. These include that:

  • All non-household customers in a position to negotiate better targeted, more efficient and more cost-effective services.
  • Outcomes are cost-beneficial for the majority of customers.
  • The new competitive markets are fair, transparent and efficient.
  • The market delivers a seamless customer experience in England and Scotland.
  • Reform incentivises innovation by both existing and new market participants.
  • Reforms to upstream markets in England drive sustainable and efficient use of water, encouraging innovation and choice in alternative water resources and sewerage services.