Headlines: June 20th, 2005

The water industry watchdog, WaterVoice, is calling for greater use of water metering to help manage future supplies and to meet the demand of the increasing numbers of homes over the next 15 years. Maurice Terry, the WaterVoice Chairman, has challenged the Government and the industry to promote metering more positively to ease the growing strain on water resources in the fastest-developing parts of the country.In England and Wales less than a third of household customers have a water meter. The figures vary between 63 per cent for Tendring Hundred Water, in Essex and 6 per cent for Portsmouth Water. Of the larger supply companies only Anglian Water – 52 per cent – and South West Water – 56 per cent – have a majority of their customers using metered water.

WaterVoice believes a move towards universal metering in the medium term would make most sense in the South and East of England, where water resources are most stretched. Companies could expand selective metering, for example on change of occupancy, or through designation, by the Secretary of State, of water-scarce areas.

Mr Terry said, “Metering is the fairest method of charging and helps to concentrate customers’ minds on how much water they are using for everyday activities. While it would be premature and costly to introduce universal metering across the country, there is a strong case for more rapid expansion of selective metering.”

He added that the current Rateable Value system that is used to calculate most customers’ bills in England and Wales, was archaic and made it too easy to take secure water supplies for granted.