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Industry relationships

New entrants to the water industry are thin on the ground as everyone gears up for the next five year spending programme.

The traditional drop in workload for engineers in the water sector has begun with the approach of AMP4, the next five year asset management programme.

But contractor and supplier body British Water is not as concerned as it was at this point five years ago. 'We think the drop will be shorter and less pronounced this time round, ' says British Water director Paul Mullord. 'This time there is no line in the sand. Frameworks are not suddenly ending, there is more feathering in and overlapping of work.' Next month will see the start of the next five year cycle.

Ofwat has approved spending programmes worth almost £19bn.

In 2000 the industry saw a real shake up of who worked where as the water companies embraced alliancing and partnering for the first time.

Research by NCE (see table) shows that going into the 2005 cycle there is much less change with the same firms winning work again, much to the disappointment of their competitors (NCE 3 March).

Consultants Black & Veatch and Atkins and contractor Biwater have won a mixture of new work and repeat business with at least four different water companies. Contractors Costain, Barhale, Morrison, MJ Gleeson and Laing Utilities have won new and repeat business with at least three different water companies.

The new work has resulted from these firms taking work from each other, but no one appears to have lost out overall.

For many of the water companies, the multiorganisational teams set up in 2000 have given them pretty good savings, so they are understandably reluctant to change winning formulae.

But there will be some alterations, nonetheless, as pressure from the regulator to improve efficiency is forcing companies to really understand exactly how and where the pennies are being spent with these firms.

As a result, water and sewage companies like Thames, United Utilities and Wessex have boosted their in-house engineering departments.

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