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Water supply and sanitation in the United Kingdom: Map


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United Kingdommarker: Water and Sanitation
Water coverage (broad definition) 100%
Sanitation coverage (broad definition) 100%
Continuity of supply (%) 100%
Average urban water use (l/c/d) 150
Average urban domestic water and sewer bill for 20m3 n/a
Share of household metering 33% (2008) .
Non-revenue water n/a
Share of collected wastewater treated 100%
Annual investment in WSS n/a
Share of self-financing by utilities n/a
Share of tax-financing n/a
Share of external financing n/a
Decentralization to municipalities No
National water and sanitation company None
Water and sanitation regulator Three regulators, one each for England/Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
Responsibility for policy setting
Sector law None
Number of service providers 28
Public water supply and sanitation in the United Kingdommarker is characterized by universal access and generally good service quality. A salient feature of the sector in the United Kingdom compared to other developed countries is the diversity of institutional arrangements between the constituting parts of the UK (England and Wales; Scotland; and Northern Ireland), which are each described in separate articles, while this article is devoted to some common issues across the United Kingdom.


Urban (89% of the population) Rural (11% of the population) Total
Water Broad definition 100% 100% 100%
House connections 100% 98% 100%
Sanitation Sewerage 97% 97% 97%
Source: WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program (2004)

Access to improved water supply and sanitation in the UK is universal. It is estimated that 96% of households are connected to the sewer network and only 4% are served by on-site sanitation systems such as septic tanks.

Water sources

According to the Environment Agency, total water abstraction for public water supply in the UK was 17.2 million cubic meters (MCM) per day in 2004, which is the same level as in 1987.

Responsibility for water supply and sanitation

Policy and regulation

The economic regulator of water companies in England and Wales is the Water Services Regulation Authority, OFWATmarker. The economic water industry regulator in Scotlandmarker is the Water Industry Commission for Scotland. The Environment Agency is responsible for environmental regulation, and the Drinking Water Inspectorate for regulating drinking water quality in the United Kingdom. Drinking water standards and wastewater discharge standards in the U.K., as in other countries of the European Union, are determined by the EU (see EU water policy).

Service provision

In England and Wales water and sewerage services are provided by 10 private regional water and sewerage companies and 16 mostly smaller private "water only" companies. In Scotland water and sewerage services are provided by a single public company, Scottish Water. In Northern Ireland water and sewerage services are also provided by a single public entity, Northern Ireland Water.

Map of Service Providers in the UK

Financial aspects


According to a 2006 survey by NUS consulting the average water tariff (price) without sewerage in the U.K. for large consumers was the equivalent of US$ 1.90 per cubic meter. This was the third-highest tariff among the 14 mostly OECD countries covered by the report.


A particularity of water tariffs in the U.K. is the low share of metering. Most users are not billed on a volumetric basis and have no financial incentive for water conservation. Since the 1990s efforts have been made to increase the share of household metering, which reached 33% in 2008. The Environment Agency would like to see 75% of households metered by 2025. Studies show that water meters lead to a 5-15% reduction in household water use.

See also


  1. Water UK
  3. WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program [2]
  4. Environment Agency
  5. NUS Consulting
  6. Environment Agency

External links

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