Bristol Water publishes the water industry’s first Social Contract

Following over a year of discussion and countless conversations with the people of the West Country, Bristol Water has today published its much anticipated Social Contract


“This social contract is a massive step forward for us as a company but also for the industry. It reflects our purpose to have a positive impact for society in what we do, building trust beyond the delivery of pure and reliable water supplies.”

Mel Karam, CEO, Bristol Water.


The discussions within the industry on social contracts have picked up pace in the recent weeks but the planning and discussions have been ongoing for over a year within Bristol Water. The social contract forms an important part of the business plan, Bristol Water For All, submitted to Ofwat back in September and has been discussed at length with customers.


Why a Social Contract?

We see our social contract as a framework to help us to continue delivering societal benefits, but also as a way local people can hold us to account for how we deliver our actions. It goes way beyond the basic requirement of competitive markets, regulation, legislation and corporate social responsibility. If local people believe we haven’t delivered societal benefits then there are financial consequences for us. We believe that is unique to the industry. We aim to help society resolve the big issues facing them. In 1846 our founders believed the same thing; they started the company to help resolve the public health issues of the day. The social contract ensures that board level decisions focus on wider societal impacts. We have also introduced a framework that allows continued participation in the big decisions – through the Bristol Water Challenge Panel, our customer forum and youth board – with local communities and people to understand their evolving needs beyond water. “We believe that when it comes to improving local communities it’s the little things that matter. We’re not about big numbers, we’re about doing things for people, things that matter. So I’m not going to give you a big number of how much we are investing but I can say that we will be working with others to do a whole range of things – including making water more publically available in communities, inspiring and educating the next generation, putting leisure opportunities at the heart of water, protecting eels, combining resources with other local organisations to amplifying resource efficiency messages. And we’ll be working with our regional leaders to support the regional strategy.


We’re talking to people in Keynsham, Whitywood, Axbridge and from all over the region to see what we can do in their community. The Social Contract means the people of the West Country can input into what we do, track what we do, and hold us to account for what we do, and how we deliver it” Mel Karam. As well as the specific promises we make in our social contract, we are keen to establish a discussion, both in the communities we serve and beyond. Our new blog ‘The Evolution of the social contract’ will be launched later this week. We will be posting regular content on the discussion we have had and are continuing to have on the Social Contract. The Blog can be read here You can also learn more about our social contract by going here  


For further detail or to arrange an interview with Mel Karam please contact Rob Ellis on or 0117 953 6470.