Water companies say they will create thousands of jobs after the sector’s regulator, Ofwat announced plans for a multi-billion pound investment spree to fund a green recovery.
Severn Trent and South West Water between them promised 3,000 jobs, while others are expected to be created by their peers.
Ofwat said it had greenlit £850 million of new investment projects across the country’s water networks.
The regulator also announced that water companies were bringing forward a further £1.9 billion of investments that had already been planned.
It hopes that freeing up the money early, and adding more projects, will allow the sector to help fuel a green bounce-back from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Today marks an important step in this country’s green economic recovery with the water sector stepping up to make a difference,” said Ofwat’s interim chief executive David Black.
“From tackling the most pressing environmental issues, to providing economic stimulus with the backing of jobs and training, there has never been a more important time to act.
“These proposals can be of huge benefit for people and the planet when it is needed most.”
Projects will include £157 million to stop harm caused by networks overflowing during storms, efforts worth £89 million to reduce flooding risks and cut pollution, and investment in new ways of treating drinking water which needs less energy and chemicals.
Severn Trent said it would invest £565 million under the scheme, which will include installing 150,000 smart meters, earmarking two rivers for wild swimming, and removing old lead pipes.
“This investment into our region will see us lead the way by delivering a number of UK firsts including new, innovative trials to reduce the risk of flooding, increased water supplies and transformed stretches of river,” said chief executive Liv Garfield.
“What’s more, we will also be creating 2,500 jobs in the Midlands at a time when increasing employment, and getting people back into work, is vital for our region.”
The new plans will see Thames Water invest up to £146 million, South West Water £81 million, United Utilities £63 million and South Staffs Water £8 million.
They are currently out for consultation.