South West Water is the water and wastewater service provider for a population of c. 1.7 million in Cornwall, Devon, and parts of Somerset and Dorset. Since 2016 it has also been providing water services in the Bournemouth Water region to a population of c. 0.5 million. We provide reliable, efficient and high quality drinking water and waste water services throughout these areas.

We believe that by investing in the future of our region, we are not only improving the quality of life for today’s residents and visitors but are also taking responsibility for future generations. Our aim is to continually drive up standards, particularly in the areas that matter most to our customers and be amongst the best in the water industry.

South West Water is the only water supplier in the region, therefore there is a very strict system of regulation in place to safeguard the best interests of its customers and the environment. 

South West Water Peninsula House, Rydon Lane, Exeter EX2 7HR

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Climate Change We are proactively responding to ongoing and future changes in our climate.

We are involved in research at both national and regional levels into climate change.

It is likely that winters in the South West will become wetter and summers drier and the overall effect of these changes will be a reduction in annual rainfall. This, combined with higher temperatures, will lead to increased evaporation from rivers and reservoirs and will have an impact on the amount of water our resources can supply.

We use climate change research findings in our water resources models to see how the balance between supply and demand might change in the future and to plan to accommodate this change.

It is also likely that we will see more extreme weather events such as storms and flooding events. Keeping sites operational when faced with external threats such as flooding is fundamental to maintaining a reliable service to customers. Our experts have been working with the Environment Agency and other experts for a number of years to understand the risk to our service presented by flooding and extreme weather.

Protections are already in place at key sites including Pynes Water Treatment Works, which supplies Exeter and the surrounding area. The latest climate and flood risk projections will be used to ensure that future measures we put in place are as robust as possible.

We’re also working hard to reduce our own carbon footprint and alleviate against further climate change. We’re committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and have set voluntary emissions reduction targets to help us meet our goals. We believe an approach to climate change that addresses both adaptation and mitigation is essential if the challenges of climate change are to be managed. Our efforts towards adapting to a changing climate and in controlling our greenhouse gas emissions through climate change mitigation are part of our overall ethos to become a more sustainable business. 


Environment Plan to 2050

A healthy environment is vital for the long term sustainability of the services we provide to customers.

From the water we use to supply customers with drinking water to the watercourses that receive the treated wastewater from customers, the condition of the environment underpins everything we do.

We recognise the inherent importance of a healthy environment and recognising our stewardship responsibilities our long-term aim is to leave the environment in a better state than we found it.

This document sets out how the activities in our company business plan deliver this, and in doing so deliver a more resilient and better quality service to our customers.

This plan details how we will work with communities and businesses and sets out key targets within our plan that will lead to a better environment. We also refer to our work on natural capital and catchment-based planning for both water and wastewater services which we see as pivotal if the sector is to move away from traditional end-of-pipe solutions to ones that deliver multiple benefits to customers and the environment.

2019 is planned to be the Year of Green Action. Drawing on our experience supporting the 2018 World’s Ocean Day in Bude we are already preparing our programme of engagement activities with other organisations in our region to bring environmental improvements to life. In turn, this programme will be the foundation for bringing the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan into action in the South West.

Whilst improvements to the environment are embedded throughout our company business plan, we have structured this document in line with the targets in the 25 Year Environment Plan. 


Efficient Energy Management

Treating and pumping water and waste water uses a lot of energy. We are one of the heaviest energy users in the South West, with an electricity bill of about £25million per year. Outside of the South West our energy usage in our Bournemouth Water region costs us a further £3million per year.

The majority of our energy usage is used for water and waste water treatment and pumping with only a relatively small proportion of our energy used for supporting functions such as lighting and heating in offices. About 45% of our energy usage is in the treatment and provision of drinking water, whilst about 55% is used for waste water treatment and its safe return to the environment.

If we can reduce the amount of energy we use we can help manage our costs and cut our carbon footprint, which will help slow down the effects of climate change. Towards this aim we invest in energy efficiency, ensuring our pumps and pumping equipment are kept in good condition and optimised for efficient use. More recently we have embarked upon a programme of extensive monitoring of our assets, collecting much more performance data than ever before. This has enabled us to use this performance data to help us select the most efficient combination of pumps to meet the desired flows.

Focus on renewable energy A key component of our drive towards increasing efficiency is our focus on renewable energy. In the South West region we are blessed with some of the UK’s best natural resources for generating clean renewable energy. We can turn some of the rainfall that falls on the higher moors into hydro electricity and, as the second windiest region in the UK, we are also ideally situated for wind turbines, this is on top of being one of the sunniest areas of the UK and an ideal location for solar power.

As well as making use of natural renewable energy resources available by investing in hydro, wind and solar power we also recover energy from the sewage sludge that arrives at our works. We use anaerobic digestion, a process where microorganisms break down sewage sludge in the absence of oxygen, to produce a methane rich biogas. We then use this gas in engines that produce both electricity and heat, helping to offset the amount of energy that we need to purchase from outside sources.

Renewable energy from the moors Mary Tavy and Morwellham power stations harness the forces of nature to generate three-and-a-half megawatts of green energy for South West Water - enough to power a small town like Tavistock.

Renewable energy comes from sustainable sources: the water that is naturally flowing from a high level back to sea level provides the mechanical power that is converted by the hydro process into electricity. It is 100 per cent renewable and recyclable by our natural weather patterns and is one of the most efficient sustainable energy resources we have today.

There has been a form of hydro-electric power generated at Mary Tavy since 1932. During the last 75 years, the original turbines have gradually been upgraded with the latest technology to meet the latest efficiency standards.

Although the Mary Tavy hydro-electric power station is now small compared with more recent plants, it provides a fascinating insight into how hydro-electric has developed over the decades. 

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