Blackpool Council has become the first public sector organisation to be granted a self-supply licence to manage and monitor its own water usage.
The licence was awarded following a successful application to the Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat).
It will enable Blackpool Council to buy water supply and wastewater services directly from United Utilities for its buildings and associated premises, but the local authority will take over managing its own retail services such as meter reading, administration and billing for over 120 sites across the borough.
Sites will range from council offices, libraries and sports centres to the Sandcastle Waterpark and Winter Gardens.
The council estimates innovative move will achieve cost savings of up to £194,000 over three years.
In the first year alone, anticipated savings are in the region of £50,000, with the potential for further savings through additional cost and consumption efficiency projects.
Cllr Fred Jackson, Cabinet Member Responsible for the Environment, said: ‘This is an exciting initiative and we are looking forward to the opportunities that a self-supply licence offers us in managing our water usage responsibly, efficiently and cost-effectively.
‘We are the first public sector organisation to apply for and secure this licence. There are many benefits such as reducing administration costs and cutting out the margin that goes to others in the supply chain. We will pay the price that retailers pay to the water company which will deliver significant savings,’ added Cllr Jackson.
‘The licence also gives us a voice as it offers certain rights such as voting rights with organisations and companies such as Ofwat and United Utilities which can help influence the future development of the water market.’
To support the application, Blackpool Council has entered into a partnership agreement with self-supply specialists, Waterscan. Waterscan will take on retail functions, help deliver cost savings and efficiencies direct with the wholesaler, provide effective water consumption management and ensure compliance with relevant regulatory codes.
Waterscan’s managing director, Neil Pendle, said: ‘We congratulate Blackpool Council on being the first public sector organisation to take a proactive approach to optimising efficiency in the open water market through its self-supply. We look forward to working closely with the council team to achieve its goals and to signal to other public sector bodies how they too could reduce their water footprint and costs.’