Writing The Mint magazine, Justin Taberham examines the prospects for the UK water sector.

Near daily media interest and criticism of water companies’ pollution performance has lately been often stimulated by public reporting or legal action against them. In addition, debt loadings for some companies are at unsustainably high levels and investors have had to inject further capital into companies. So it is hardly a surprise that there is significant pressure on the government to act and a wide-ranging discussion has begun on the future of the industry and what reform is required.

So how did we get to this point?  Privatisation in 1989 seemed to make a pretty good start: the government assumed responsibility for the English water industry’s total debts amounting to £5bn and granted the water companies a further £1.5bn in what was denoted a “green dowry” of public funds.  Ordinary people from beyond the usual share buyers were encouraged to buy shares with the slogan “You could be an H2Owner’ and the offer was hugely oversubscribed.

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