Trade body Water UK has announced the appointment of Christine McGourty as its new chief executive.

McGourty will join next month and replaces Michael Roberts, who is stepping down after four years as boss of the UK’s water and sewerage trade association.

She has extensive experience in regulated industries and trade bodies, having led the corporate affairs functions at Centrica, British Gas and Energy UK, as well as serving as a non-executive board member at Smart Energy GB.

She said: “This is a fascinating time to be joining the water industry, with the sector playing an increasingly important role in combatting climate change, stepping up the fight on plastic waste, and making sure customers continue to get the world-class quality water they deserve at a price they can afford.”

Her most recent role was as chief corporate affairs officer at FTSE-listed engineering and technology company Laird.

Prior to entering the corporate world, McGourty was a journalist with more than 20 years’ experience covering science, technology and environmental issues for the BBC and Daily Telegraph.


Water and sewerage industry’s Public Interest Commitment

The water and sewerage industry in England agreed a Public Interest Commitment in April 2019, strengthening their ongoing commitment to work in the public interest and place wider good at the heart of everything it does.

The companies agreed on a series of pledges which complement their individual business plans by showing leadership at a national level.

McGourty said: “The industry has set out an ambitious programme to increase investment, cut leakage and improve the environment, and I look forward to working with all of the water and wastewater companies to address the challenges ahead.”

Christine McGourty Water UK
Water UK aims to ensure that companies provide customers with top-quality tap water (credit: US Air Force/Julianne Showalter)

As part of the commitment, the sector aims to champion measures through which water companies can embody what it means to operate in the public interest.

This could include steps such as amending licences or articles of association, which is a document that outlines regulations for a company’s operations.


Five targets to combat climate change and improve customer experience

As part of the Public Interest Commitment, water companies have also agreed to work together towards five challenging goals that will help the environment and improve customer experience.

  • Triple the rate of leakage reduction across the sector by 2030,
  • Make bills affordable for all households, with water and sewerage bills no more than 5% of their disposable income by 2030, and develop a strategy to end water poverty,
  • Achieve net-zero carbon emissions for the sector by 2030,
  • Prevent the equivalent of four billion plastic bottles ending up as waste by 2030,
  • Become the first sector to achieve a 100% commitment to the Social Mobility Pledge, which is a cross-party campaign to improve social mobility in the UK.

A programme of work to help achieve these goals is being led by Water UK, with an independent panel being established to report annually on how well the sector is performing collectively.