United Utilities

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United Utilities PLC
Public company
Traded as LSEUU.
Industry Water industry
Founded 1995
Headquarters Warrington, England, UK
Area served
North West England
Key people
Production output
  • 2.0 Gl/day (drinking)
  • 2.0 Gl/day (recycled)
  • £1,704.5 million (2014)[1]
£641.3 million (2014)[1]
£739.4  million (2014)[1]
Number of employees
5,300 (2013)
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, North West Water and NORWEB branding was phased out in favour of one single brand under United Utilities, a rebranding that was completed by the end of 2001.[5]

It sold its telecoms business, Your Communications 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 Limited became the licensed Distribution Network Operator for the north west of England as a consequence of the sale.[9] United Utilities continued to operate and maintain 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 which owns, operates, manages and maintains the network.[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 from water sources in Manchester to London.[13]


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.[14] 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.




Greater Manchester[edit]



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.[18]

Water contamination[edit]

In August 2015 cryptosporidium, a water-borne parasite that can cause diarrhoea and vomiting, was detected in the water supply to Blackpool, Chorley, Fylde, Preston, South Ribble and Wyre.[19] Disruption continued into a fourth week for more than 300,000 customers. Ultra violet light was used to kill the parasite. A petition requesting a parliamentary inquiry into how the water supply was contaminated, was signed by about 12,000 people.[20]

The measures put in place by United Utilites, to ensure the safety of the water supply, were so effective that not one single case of illness was reported.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Financial Results 2014
  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. ^ a b "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. ^ "About United Utilities". United Utilities. Retrieved 2012-02-27. 
  15. ^ "Woodhead Reservoir". United Utilities. Retrieved 2012-04-08. 
  16. ^ "Bottoms Reservoir". United Utilities. Retrieved 2012-04-08. 
  17. ^ Rivington Reservoirs (main scheme), Engineering Timelines, retrieved 2012-04-21 
  18. ^ United Utilities report on £3.6 billion investment London Drainage
  19. ^ "Lancashire homes forced to boil water due to cryptosporidium bug", BBC News, 7 August 2015, accessed 28 August 2015
  20. ^ "Lancashire water parasite alert enters fourth week", BBC News, 27 August 2015, accessed 28 August 2015

External links[edit]