Guernsey Water repays £1.2 million to States
Guernsey Water has published its 2020 Annual Report, which illustrates a challenging but stable financial performance during a year when £1.2 million was repaid to the States.
The repayment returns some of the capital grants received from the States when wastewater services merged with Guernsey Water in 2012. In the last two years £2.5 million of these grants have been repaid, with a further repayment planned in 2021. Despite a deficit of £0.3 million in 2020 and a forecast deficit for 2021, stability and a projected return to profitability have enabled these repayments.
Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic presented further challenges in 2020. Steve Langlois, Guernsey Water's Managing Director, said: "The pandemic was the biggest challenge we faced in 2020. It was a time when many islanders felt more vulnerable than ever. It was also a time when our purpose, to 'provide water for life' was more relevant than ever. It is because of the belief that our people have in this purpose, along with their preparedness, adaptability and hard work that Guernsey Water was able to continue providing a quality service to customers throughout the year".
Guernsey Water also reached a significant milestone on Christmas day; the 100th anniversary of its formation. Mr Langlois added: "We are proud of our Guernsey Water heritage, which has given us the infrastructure we use to serve our customers today. It also gives us considerable experience and an ongoing commitment that we drew upon to deal with the difficulties brought about by the pandemic. It was humbling to see just how deep the commitment of our people went during the most challenging times".
Lockdown had little impact on the demand for water, but an increase in home working significantly increased demand for cesspit emptying. There was additional pressure on this service in the wet October and December months, which came at the end of the wettest year for a decade. Whilst this additional demand contributed to a small increase in turnover, because the service is subsidised this was outweighed by an increase in cost. Collections increased by 8% resulting in a year on year increase in net service cost of £0.3 million, which made a significant contribution to the deficit. Nevertheless, careful management of costs in other areas meant that Guernsey Water's operating surplus of £4.6 million was still a marginal increase on the previous year.
Capital investment of £4.4 million was made in Guernsey Water's infrastructure during 2020. Major schemes included completion of the refurbishment of Harbour St Sampson's wastewater pumping station, which will protect bathing waters at Bordeaux from sewer spills. We began refurbishment of our St Saviour's water treatment works and Forest Road treated water storage reservoir. Ongoing replacement of water mains also continued, with 1% of our 420 km network of pipes being rehabilitated in 2020.
Steve Langlois, Guernsey Water's Managing Director, said: "Our average metered customer spent £1.20 per day for all their water and wastewater needs in 2020. A huge amount of work goes on behind the tap and the sink to provide these services, and we are continually investing in the infrastructure we need for both today and the future. We are always striving to do this as efficiently as possible, so our customers get value for their money; despite the challenges 2020 was no exception".