Piping Up: Customer views on the transfer of water supply pipe ownership in Wales

This research explored the views of water customers in Wales on a potential change of ownership of their private water supply pipes.

Piping up is a collaborative project developed by CCWater, Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water (DCWW), Dee Valley Water (DVW) and Severn Trent Water (SVT) [1]. The findings will feed into future Welsh Government discussions exploring the potential of pipe transfer ownership in Wales through policy changes, in line with the commitment made in the Water Strategy for Wales.

The key findings include:

  1. Spontaneous awareness of current supply pipe ownership and responsibilities is generally high but people don’t always understand their current responsibilities fully.
  2. Around seven in ten found current water supply pipe ownership arrangements acceptable once their full responsibilities were explained.
  3. Initially, around nine out of ten customers thought a proposed supply pipe transfer acceptable in principle; support fell to around eight in ten once aware of the wider implications.
  4. Transfer of pipework up to the internal stop tap had the most support, with just over half of all customers favouring this.
  5. Households were willing to pay around £9 and non-households 3.6% on top of their current annual water bill for transfer of pipework to the internal stop-tap – but this was derived in isolation of any other potential costs which affect water bills.
  6. Customers, particularly non-households, would have high service level expectations following the transfer.
  7. But around seven in ten were not willing to pay an additional amount beyond £9 to secure the highest levels of service which were presented.

[1] At the time of this research in August 2017, three companies operated in Wales – Dŵr Cymru, Dee Valley and Severn Trent. Dee Valley was taken over by Severn Trent Water earlier in 2017 but still operated under a separate licence when the research took place.