Open Water Market
Businesses – Changing your water supplier
April 2017 saw the biggest change in the water sector for almost 30 years. That’s because the retail water market opened, allowing an estimated 1.2 million businesses, charities and public sector organisations the freedom to choose their water and wastewater retailer.
Open Water was the name given to the programme set up by UK Government to open the water retail market for businesses, charity and public sector customers in England from April 2017.
The Open Water programme is led by three partner organisations, Ofwat, Defra and MOSL, working with existing water companies across England, Scotland and Wales, as well as companies who wish to become a licensed retailer now that the market has opened.
MOSL is the market operator for the non-household water market in England. They support the Open Water programme by working with Defra and Ofwat on behalf of their members.
MOSL’s role is to deliver the operational capability needed to support the efficient operation of the new market.
When can I choose my retailer?
Whilst businesses who use more than 5,000m3 (or five million litres) of water per year have been able to switch their water supplier for some time now, most businesses in England haven’t had this option.
From April 2017, all businesses in England (including charity, public sector and not-for-profit organisations) are able to switch their water supplier and their sewerage or trade effluent supplier, much like you can now in the energy and telecom sector.
Allowing business customers to choose between retailers will lead to more competitive pricing, improved customer service and the flexibility to negotiate better deals and rates with existing suppliers.
What's the difference between a wholesaler and retailer?
Currently most water supplies are provided by a single incumbent water company who is responsible for supplying the water to a customer’s premises. This is known as the ‘wholesale’ service. The customer-facing services such as billing and handling customer queries are known as the ‘retail’ service. You can find a full list of retailers on the Open Water website.