Water Bill Threatens CRT Water Sales21 November 2013
Canal & River Trust engages in commercial activity alongside its delivery of charitable objectives and statutory navigation functions. This commercial activity includes acting as a water supplier to water companies. Examples of these commercial activities include the supply of Bristol with around 50% of its drinking water needs and moving water from the River Dee near Llangollen along CRT canals to supply areas of Cheshire with drinking water. Movements of water like this are fulfilling a vital public service.
This commercial activity is also a valuable source of income for CRT, raising around £2.85 million annually. However, this commercial activity and source of income is threatened by Clause 12 of the Water Bill, currently awaiting a Second Reading in the House of Commons.
Clause 12 would give the water services regulation authority – Ofwat, the power to change or terminate any water sales agreement on the application of a water company without the consent of CRT. This potential interference from Ofwat poses a threat to the balanced delivery of water sales, which are currently provided in a way that does not distract form the delivery of CRT’s statutory navigation functions and charitable objectives. A loss of CRT's income, or a substnatial portion of it, received from water sales could make a serious dent in its income and thus affect the level of maintenance work that can be carried out on its waterways.
CRT is in discussion with Minsters and officials to seek an amendment or removal of the clause, which IWA strongly supports.