Code for Adoption Agreements

Developers or self-lay providers (SLPs) enter into adoption agreements when they want an appointed water or sewerage company to take over responsibility for infrastructure they have constructed.

It is crucial that developers, new appointees and SLPs have confidence they can receive the services they want from companies to enable their own business in providing contestable services. End-user customers must also have trust and confidence that their company will only adopt quality, resilient infrastructure.

Our Code for Adoption Agreements (the Code) ensures a consistent approach to adoption agreements in the sector with a transparent and uniform approach for companies, SLPs and developers to take throughout the adoption process. It also supports a level playing field for customers who wish to apply for, and enter into, adoption agreements and brings in more guidance on the adoption of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS).

The Code is for water and sewerage companies operating wholly or mainly in England (companies). We do not currently have powers to introduce an equivalent Code for water and sewerage companies operating wholly or mainly in Wales.

What are the expectations on companies?

The Code sets a framework of overarching principles within which companies must deliver adoption agreements and places obligations on companies to work with developers, SLPs and other stakeholders to develop, agree and maintain sector guidance (setting out the processes by which parties can enter into adoption agreements) and model adoption agreements (collectively, the sector documents). The Code sets out the minimum requirements for the sector documents, including information and publication requirements; when deviations from them may be permitted; and governance arrangements, which include the sector convening governance panels to consider future changes to the sector documents.

Sector documents

The water sector documents have been “live” since 1 January 2021 and form part of the Code. They apply to all new pre-development enquiries and applications from this date.

The sewerage sector documents have been “live” since 1 April 2020 and form part of the Code. They apply to all new pre-development enquiries and applications from this date.

Change proposals

The Code makes provision for governance panels whose function is to consider change proposals to the sector guidance and model adoption agreements. The terms of reference for the panels are set out in the respective sector guidance (see Appendix H of the water sector guidance and Appendix G of the sewerage sector guidance). For further details on these panels see WaterUK’s website.

Any interested party can submit a change proposal, in writing, to the appropriate panel for consideration. The panel must publish all change proposals and allow interested parties to provide comments.

When a change proposal is received, the relevant panel must make a recommendation to Ofwat concerning that proposal. Each panel must submit their recommendations to Ofwat no later than 3 calendar months after publishing the relevant change proposal.

Ofwat will review the recommendation for consistency with the principles of the Code and will make the final decision as to which changes should be made to the sector guidance and model adoption agreements having consulted, where appropriate, the relevant persons set out in the WIA91. Ofwat may ask for further views of panel members prior to modifying the sector guidance or the model adoption agreements where a proposed modification is contrary to the consensus of the panel.

See below our decisions regarding change proposals submitted to us:

Further information