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About us

Roles and responsibilities

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 retail services.

The Open Water programme was set up by the UK Government to deliver the competitive market by April 2017.

The key organisations responsible for delivering the new market are Defra, Ofwat and MOSL.

The programme was overseen by Open Water Markets Limited (OWML) until August 2015, when its activities were transitioned into MOSL and Ofwat.

As a key partner, MOSL has a central role in developing and delivering the core systems and processes that will enable customers to switch between suppliers. MOSL is actively engaging with participants and coordinating activity across the industry to support the programme in the run up to market opening in April 2017. 

Open Water encourages stakeholders' active participation. We publish relevant papers, consultation documents and notice of stakeholders' meetings and workshops on this website.

Decision making

The Open Water programme is led by a Management Group of senior executives from MOSL, Defra and Ofwat. This group (the RMOMG) is responsible for:

  • overall programme governance and leadership;
  • oversight of plans, budgets, risks and policy issues.

Chaired by Defra, the group takes programme-level decisions and delegates day-to-day decision making to the Programme Management Office and the individual work streams. It is supported by a number of groups that report to it covering programme management, policy issues and communications.

Find out more about the overall governance of Open Water.

Partners' roles and responsibilities

The table below gives an overview of the key responsibilities specific to each Open Water partner.

 Business plan table

Find out more about roles and responsibilities for the programme.

Our plans


An integrated work plan for the Open Water programme is published each month on Ofwat's website.


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, 'Water for Life'.

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.
  • A more sustainable use of resources and keener pricing for customers.

Success criteria


The following high-level success criteria for the market were agreed in 2012:

  • All non-household customers are 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.

MOSL has developed a set of principles, based on the success criteria outlined above and reflecting its specific delivery role. Find out more about MOSL.