The new deregulated water market offers clubs a host of opportunities, says water industry technologist Matthew Middleton. A few years ago, Scotland became the first country in the world to open its water industry to competition. This meant non-domestic customers would no longer be able to purchase water from their local water company. Instead water services would be supplied through new organisations called Water Retailers. In turn, Water Retailers could purchase water at wholesale prices and, in theory, pass on discounted water tariffs. Customers would also be able to switch supplier in search of better services and prices – comparing the market. England has followed this model. "Only specialists in the field that analyse utility bills, can apply their expertise to stitch the historical water data together" Now around 1.4 million English customers (including GCMA members) will have the same opportunities as 130,000 businesses to compare water prices and seek better services. Much is written in industry trade journals about what all of this means for the water industry, often with very little focus upon the actual customer experience. Perhaps this is best summed up through explaining my recent water research for GCMA members. Water bills are, and always have been, notoriously difficult to analyse. Pieces of important information are scattered across several pages, with no easy or immediate way to understand or correlate actual consumption against the many estimated water bills. Often issues can be concealed going back in time over several years. Only specialists in the field that analyse utility bills, can apply their expertise to stitch the historical water data together for customer sites. They can create readable water reports that we can all understand and digest and, hopefully from which, water saving actions can then be taken. I have had the opportunity to be involved in such a project very recently for GCMA members where six participants agreed to undertake water analysis for their sites. The results opened my eyes to the clear need for customers to first address corrections in water charging tariffs, recoveries for incorrectly incurred charges and address often very significant water wastage issues before even considering switching to another water supplier. The table below highlights the water analysis results. There are certainly some savings to be made by members wanting to switch water supplier and GCMA members in Scotland will already be familiar with this. Some have no doubt taken advantage of the more generous discounts available there compared with the new English market. COMBINED WATER TARIFFS OVERCHARGES & WATER CONSUMPTION INCREASES Sample GCMA sites to date Incorrect water charging tariffs (4 out of 6) 2016 average daily increased water consumed (5 out of 6) Annualised water cost Increases (5 out of 6) 6 golf clubs £890.01 annual 12,310 litres per day £11,547 Making sense of the various water charging elements is going to be crucial in making the correct choice, in addition to water conservation which offers potentially a far greater value to members in reducing and, most importantly, being able...
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