Skip to content

Revised water charges increase efficiency opportunity for North West firms

Revised charges for surface water drainage provide a greater incentive to explore rainwater harvesting and sustainable urban drainage systems, according to a Business Growth Hub expert.

Revised charges for surface water drainage provide a greater incentive to explore rainwater harvesting and sustainable urban drainage systems, according to a Business Growth Hub expert.

From April 2015, United Utilities is changing the way surface water drainage is charged as part of site area charges for North West businesses.

Surface water drainage

The site area method of charging for drainage bases the amount businesses pay on the size of the ‘chargeable area’ of their premises, which excludes areas where rainfall is either drained naturally into the ground or stored for other uses. 

This gives businesses a financial incentive to reduce their impact on sewer networks by increasing natural drainage on site through sustainable urban water drainage systems (SuDs) or installing rainwater harvesting measures to re-use rainfall for manufacturing processes or domestic water use. 

New charges

However, changes to the United Utilities charging structure for 2015/16 increase this incentive for some businesses even further, according to Alasdair Dalzel-Job, environmental business advisor at the Business Growth Hub. 

Whereas the surface water drainage charge previously accounted for 50 per cent of a business’s total annual site area charge for water drainage, it now accounts for 60 per cent.

‘Great opportunity’

“The changes basically mean that it is now even more financially prudent to look at sustainable water management techniques to reduce your reliance on surface water drainage”, said Dalzel-Job.

“For example, if a business installed measures that lowered its chargeable site area from band 10 (25,000-49,999m2) to band 9 (18,000-24,999m2), its surface water drainage charge would be cut by £13,896. This is nearly £3,000 more than would have been saved under the previous charging scheme.

“In other words, some businesses could now save around 25 per cent more on their surface water drainage charge than previously by improving natural drainage or harvesting rainwater.

Rainwater harvesting

“It’s a great opportunity for businesses that are looking at constructing or moving into new buildings on their premises, making changes to existing building layout, or are using a lot of water in manufacturing processes and could therefore benefit from harvesting rainwater.

“For some businesses, harvesting rainwater can be a ‘win-win’ cost saving measure. As well as potentially cutting your surface water drainage charge, it will also reduce your metered water usage.”

The Business Growth Hub offers resource efficiency support to Greater Manchester SMEs as part of its Green Growth service. To find out more, visit the website.