The Water Industry Act 1991 (Amendment) Order 2024

Jurisdiction: England & Wales

Commencement: 23rd February 2024

Amends: Water Industry Act 1991

Mini Summary

The Water Industry Act 1991 sets out the main duties and powers of water and sewerage companies. It also establishes that there will be a Water Services Regulation Authority (currently Ofwat) which will carry out functions as described within this Act.

It also requires that premises supplied by a licensed water undertaker must not cause any water fitting to be or remain out of order or in need or repair and establishes the requirement to have consent to discharge trade effluent to public sewers.

Note that the Water Act 1991 was significantly amended by subsequent water legislations including the Water Industry Act 1999Water Act 2003 and Water Act 2014.

Appointment of water supply and sewerage undertakers

The Act allows for the Secretary of State to appoint a company as a water or sewerage undertaker for an area of England and Wales. Such appointments must be made in writing and describe the area for which they are appointed. Only limited companies or statutory water companies can be appointed as a water undertaker, and only limited companies can be appointed as sewerage undertakers.

The Secretary of State must ensure that appointments are made so that every area of England and Wales has an appointed water undertaker and sewage undertaker at all times. Details of rules and procedures for the termination or varying of these appointments is given in the Act.

Water supply licences

The Secretary of State may also grant a water supply licence. A water supply licence must be held by a company that wishes to supply water to non-household premises. This allows the holder to purchase wholesale water from a water undertaker in order to supply the customers’ premises, and can also allow the licensee to introduce water into the current supply system in order to supply its customers’.


Various duties apply.



Changes are made to Schedule 2 of the Act to enable the transfer of assets by hive-down*, when a failing water industry company is in special administration.

*A transfer by hive-down enables the special administrator to transfer the whole or part of a regulated business to a wholly owned subsidiary before the securities in that subsidiary are transferred to new owners.

This amendment has no direct relevance to environmental matters.

Link to full government text


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