Application process

How does it work?

Developers can choose a new appointee for water, sewerage, or both services at qualifying sites. Once they change the incumbent to a new appointee, it will take over responsibility for providing those services to their site.

NAVs either get their water from their own source, such as a borehole, or they buy it wholesale from another company. They either treat sewage in their own plants, or they discharge it into another company’s sewers.

The NAV may introduce its own water into the public supply system. It may also buy its water from another company (a “bulk supply”), in which case it needs to negotiate a price for that water before it can begin to charge the customer. Customers will continue to use the water from the public supply, and the Drinking Water Inspectorate confirms that it is safe to use before their new supply begins.

The majority of NAVs have a bulk supply and/or bulk discharge agreement with the incumbent company. Further information on bulk supply and discharge agreements, including charging guidance, can be found here.

If the new appointee has its own sewerage treatment works, then it will need the Environment Agency’s permission to discharge the treated sewage into the environment. If the new appointee discharges the wastewater to another company’s sewers (a “bulk discharge”), it will need to negotiate a price for this before they can begin to charge you.

What do you need to do to become a new appointee?

Once a customer has contacted you about their supply, you will need to apply to us to be appointed to their site. We will make sure that the customer is eligible to switch to you, and that you have the resources to supply the customer with water or sewerage services or both.

Before we can make the appointment the customer will need to provide you with a signed letter of consent confirming that they agree to the switch.

How long does it take?

We aim to make the new appointment within 85 working days of receiving a completed application you. This may take longer in some circumstances. This time includes a 28 day consultation period.

Stage Indicative timing Summary of activities involved
Pre-application stage

(section 4)

Applicant’s discretion Preliminary discussions between the applicant, Ofwat and other key stakeholders

Applicant to begin negotiations with existing appointee for bulk supply/discharge agreement (if applicable).

1 – Initial checks

(section 3.2)

Upto 5 working days Application submitted to Ofwat.

Ofwat undertakes initial checks of the application.

2 – Assessment and recommendation to the decision maker to consult (section 6.1) Upto 45 days Ofwat undertakes a detailed assessment of the application.

Recommendation to the decision maker to consult on our proposal to grant a variation of appointment/ new appointment.

3 – Public consultation No less than 28 calendar days Public consultation on the proposal to propose grant variation of appointment/ new appointment.

Applicant to conclude negotiations with existing appointee for bulk supply/discharge terms and provide Ofwat with copies of signed agreements (if applicable).

4 – Final decision Upto 15 working days Ofwat considers consultation responses and makes a decision to grant/ reject a new appointment/variation.
Total Upto 85 working days New appointment/ variation is granted or rejected by Ofwat.


During the process, it is possible for your application to be put on hold. This means that we will stop the clock on the time in which we aim to complete your application. We will do this when we are lacking the relevant information to assess your application. Once the issues have been resolved, the caseworker will contact you to tell you that the application has been taken off of hold.

If you are interested in becoming a new appointee or would like more information, please contact our Case Management Office at: [email protected].

How we regulate new appointees

We have the same powers to regulate new appointees as we have to regulate existing monopoly water companies. This includes making sure that each new appointee is financially viable.

We have a legal duty to protect the interests of consumers, wherever appropriate by promoting effective competition.

When we consider applications for new appointments, one of our primary concerns is that customers should be ‘no worse off’ if they are supplied by a new appointee than if they were supplied by the existing appointee for that area. This means that the quality of services and the charges for water and sewerage services must be at least comparable.

Similarly, the Drinking Water Inspectorate must also be satisfied that the new appointee can supply safe drinking water before an appointment can be granted.

For further information, please consult our table of relevant NAV publications .