What is a social contract anyway?

If you’ve been following us over the last two years, you probably would have seen or heard the words ‘social contract’. But what do these words really mean?

Our social contract is an actual document, a promise we’ve made and signed to play a more active role in our community and improve the lives of those around us. Yep, it’s that simple.


Think back nearly 200 years ago…


It all started 174 years ago (I remember it well), way back in 1846 when cholera was killing 1000s of people in the South West. No-one could understand what was causing it, or how to stop it. That was until a bunch of revolutionary chaps from Bristol finally figured out it was caused by the drinking water, (although seeing as it was drawn from the sewers, I’m not sure ‘drinking water’ is quite the right term).


They knew what they had to do and acted quickly, rivalled by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who wanted to supply clean water to Cilfton only, they set up the framework of Bristol Waterworks to deliver safe drinking water to everyone in the city. Creating innovative solutions to get water to the city from 14 miles away, hollowing out trees to make pipes, and making water fountains to drink from was just the start of their long journey ahead.


We were so determined to make life better for Bristol, we didn’t make a profit in the first 20 years just so we could focus on improving assets and services.

An old leakage inspector, pre-1900s
Still living the same purpose.


174 years on, those foundations are as strong as ever. We continue to bring forward our socially conscious vision to make sure we put our customers first and make life better.


Why not check out some of the things we’re doing in your community?


Join the conversation and have your say on Twitter using #HydroSocialContract