United Utilities

United Utilities PLC
Public company
Traded as LSE: UU.
Industry Water industry
Founded 1995 (1995)
Headquarters Warrington, England, UK
Area served
North West England
Key people
Production output
  • 2.0 Gl/day (drinking)
  • 2.0 Gl/day (recycled)
Revenue £1,720.2 million (2015)[1]
£653.3 million (2015)[1]
£271.2  million (2015)[1]
Website www.unitedutilities.com

United Utilities Group PLC (UU), the United Kingdom's largest listed water company, was founded in 1995 as a result of the merger of North West Water and NORWEB.

The group manages the regulated water and waste water network in North West England - which includes Cumbria, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside which have a combined population of nearly 7 million.[2] The United Utilities Group was the distribution network operator for the North West until 2010 when the electricity subsidiary was sold to Electricity North West. United Utilities' headquarters are in Warrington and the company has 5,300 direct employees. Its shares are listed on the London Stock Exchange and the FTSE 100 Index.

North West England is the wettest region in England,[3] and water hardness across the region is soft to very soft.[4]


In 1990 North West Water and NORWEB, the companies responsible for the provision of water and electricity to the North West, were privatised.[5] In 1995, they merged forming United Utilities but retained their separate identities.

In 1998, UU listed on the New York Stock Exchange,[6] but delisted its shares in 2007.[7] In 2000, the North West Water and NORWEB branding was phased out in favour of United Utilities, the rebranding was completed by the end of 2001.[5]

The company sold some of the businesses it had acquired, its telecoms business, Your Communications was sold in 2006, and Vertex in March 2007.[8] In December 2007, United Utilities sold its electricity distribution network assets to North West Electricity Networks (Jersey) Limitied, a joint venture between funds run by Colonial First State (part of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia) and US investment bank JPMorgan Chase. Electricity North West became the licensed Distribution Network Operator for the north west of England as a result.[9] United Utilities operated and maintained the network on behalf of Electricity Northwest until 2010, when Electricity Northwest bought the electricity network operations and maintenance arm of United Utilities to establish one Group.[10][11]

In 2011, United Utilities was selected as the preferred bidder by Severn Trent Water to purchase the Lake Vyrnwy estate for £11 million.[12] In 2012, United Utilities proposed a national water pipeline linking water sources in Manchester to London.[13]

In April 2016, United Utilities received an 18-year loan of £500m from The European Investment Bank[14] to support investment across the North West.


United Utilities' wastewater treatment plant for Preston, Lancashire
A sign with the former North West Water branding.
Haweswater Reservoir in Cumbria, constructed by the Manchester Corporation in 1929.

United Utilities owns 184 reservoirs and is responsible for the provision and maintenance of water supply in the region.[15] Some reservoirs operated by the company are outside the North West such as the Longdendale Chain in Derbyshire which were constructed by the Manchester Corporation in the 19th century and remain networked to the North West's water supply.


United Utilities operates water and wastewater networks. In North West England it is investing £3.6 billion between 2010–2015 to meet ever-increasing water quality standards, deliver environmental improvements and make their network more reliable.[19]

Water contamination

On 7 August 2015 UU announced that cryptosporidium, a water-borne parasite that can cause diarrhoea and vomiting, had been detected in the water supply to Blackpool, Chorley, Fylde, Preston, South Ribble and Wyre[20] affecting more than 300,000 customers.[21][22] No cases of cryptosporidiosis were reported and the introduction of ultra-violet treatment units resulted in "boil water" notices being lifted in some areas. Investigations by UU and the Drinking Water Inspectorate had not identified the cause but work continued to remove it.[23] On 6 September the water supply was declared free from contamination and restrictions were lifted.[24]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 "Annual Report 2015". United Utilities. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  2. "Am I in the United Utilities water area?". United Utilities. Retrieved 2012-02-22.
  3. "Why a hosepipe ban in England's wettest region?". BBC News. 25 June 2010. Retrieved 2012-02-20.
  4. "Water Hardness". United Utilities. Retrieved 2012-02-22.
  5. 1 2 "Our recent history". United Utilities. Retrieved 2012-03-05.
  6. "United Utilities shares launch". The Independent. 30 January 1998. Retrieved 2012-03-05.
  7. "United Utilities and ICI drop New York listings". The Guardian. 30 May 2007. Retrieved 2012-03-05.
  8. Richard Wray. "United Utilities to sell telecoms arm". the Guardian. Retrieved 21 March 2015.
  9. Mark Milner. "United Utilities sells its power supply network". the Guardian. Retrieved 21 March 2015.
  10. Electricity Northwest buys network operations arm from United Utilities Utility Week, 28 June 2010
  11. "United Utilities disposes of electricity maintenance and repair arm". Liverpool Post. 29 June 2010. Retrieved 2012-03-05.
  12. "'Unanswered question' over Lake Vyrnwy estate sale". BBC News. 21 October 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-05.
  13. "UU in rail pipe plan to ease north-south water divide". Manchester Evening News. 27 February 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-05.
  14. Begum, Shelina. "United Utilities receives £500m European Investment Bank funding". men. Retrieved 2016-04-18.
  15. "About United Utilities". United Utilities. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
  16. "Woodhead Reservoir". United Utilities. Retrieved 2012-04-08.
  17. "Bottoms Reservoir". United Utilities. Retrieved 2012-04-08.
  18. Rivington Reservoirs (main scheme), Engineering Timelines, retrieved 2012-04-21
  19. United Utilities report on £3.6 billion investment London Drainage
  20. "Lancashire homes forced to boil water due to cryptosporidium bug", BBC News, 7 August 2015, accessed 28 August 2015
  21. "Lancashire water parasite alert enters fourth week", BBC News, 27 August 2015, accessed 28 August 2015
  22. "Petition for parliamentary inquiry into Lancashire water bug". BBC News. Retrieved 27 March 2016.
  23. "Utility Week – United Utilities fully lifts boil water notice". Retrieved 27 March 2016.
  24. "Compensation - frequently asked questions". Retrieved 27 March 2016.

External links

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