ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS News Release (262/07) issued by
The Government News Network on 16 August 2007
Water companies in
areas of serious water stress will be able to seek compulsory
water metering as part of their 25 year forward plans, Environment
Minister Phil Woolas announced today.
The proposal, developed by the Water Saving Group, adds metering
to the existing raft of options for companies - alongside
developing new resources - for ensuring long term security of
supply. Today's move follows consultation with companies,
regulators, charities and members of the public. The Environment
Agency is publishing its response to a parallel consultation on
defining areas of water stress today.
Phil Woolas said:
"The terrible flooding we have seen recently came after more
than two years of severe drought in some parts of the country. As
the impacts of climate change on our weather and rainfall patterns
increase, we have to face up to the fact that what we might now
consider to be extremes could become more commonplace. We need a
flexible range of tools at our disposal if we are to manage
supplies sustainably in the future.
"Metering saves water - around 10% per household - and it
seems right to me that in seriously water-stressed areas the costs
and benefits of compulsory metering are given consideration
alongside other options.
"This is not a green light for universal metering, and it in
no way absolves companies from their responsibility to deliver on
leakage targets. Water companies will have to make a strong case
in their 25 year forward plans for compulsory metering in their
region to get approval to go ahead, demonstrating that metering
offers the best value for water customers' money compared
with the other options available, such as building new reservoirs.
They will have to take into account the impacts on individual
customers and particularly on vulnerable households. Their draft
plans will be open to public consultation, so everyone in an
affected area will have the chance to make their views known".
Inclusion of metering in long term management plans will come
into effect after the price review 2009.
Households use almost 70% of the billed water supplied by
companies in England and Wales, with the rest used by the business
and public sectors.
Average per capita consumption in England and Wales in 2005/06
was approximately 150 litres per person per day. Total household
demand has been increasing for some years and this increase is
expected to continue. The predicted increase in demand is a result
both of projections of increases in per capita consumption and
expected increases in numbers of households.
Notes for Editors
1. Water metering in England and Wales currently stands at around
30% and is increasing by 2% a year.
2. 58 responses to the water metering consultation were received.
A summary is published at http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/naturalenvironment.htm
3. Responses to the Environment Agency's consultation on
defining areas of water stress are published at http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk
4. A House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report
recommending that it be made easier for water companies in water
stressed areas to impose compulsory metering was published on 6
June 2006 and is available at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200506/ldselect/ldsctech/ldsctech.htm
5. In April 2007 the Government placed water companies under a
duty to produce and consult upon water resource management plans.
Ministers will be able to direct the content of plans. Draft
plans will be consulted upon in 2008 and finalised in 2009.
Ministers can require public hearings on the draft plans, and can
direct changes before they are published in final form.
6. The Water Saving Group is a Defra-led stakeholder group with
key water industry stakeholders working together to improve water
efficiency in households. The high level group is chaired by Phil
Woolas, Minister for the Environment. It meets every six months
and members include Regina Finn of Ofwat, Barbara Young of the
Environment Agency, Yve Buckland of the Consumer Council for
Water, and Pamela Taylor of Water UK, as well as representatives
from Waterwise, water companies, and Communities and Local
Government. For more information on the WSG visit http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/water/conserve/wsg/index.htm
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