Call for universal water metering in Britain


Godalming, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — August 30, 2010 – WWF-UK has become the latest organization to weigh in on water metering in Great Britain, calling for the new government and water companies to take action now to ensure that water meters are installed nationwide by 2020.

Saying water meters are a key solution to Britain’s water shortages, WWF-UK reminds that the U.K. is one of the only European countries where most households don’t pay for water on the basis of how much they use.

“We pay for most things by quantity, because it seems the fairest way. So it’s ludicrous that most households have no idea how much water they’re using. Or how much water, and money, they could be saving.”

WWF-UK comments that not only is the water charging system unfair and outdated, it’s also piling huge pressure on the country’s rivers and their wildlife. One third of the river catchments are facing damage because too much water is being taken out of them – a problem that’s set to get worse with climate change and a rising population.

Universal metering won’t just make householders more aware of their water use, it will also give water companies a better understanding of water demand, and lead to more innovative demand reduction schemes, the organization says, adding: “There needs to be a nationwide approach to make sure we stop using water wastefully and protect the future security of our water supplies. As a vital step towards this, we look forward to working with the government to ensure its new Water White Paper includes a requirement for every home to have a water meter by 2020.”

The current target for water metering is that 50 percent of households should be metered by 2015.

For its part, Water UK, which represents the water and wastewater supply organizations across the U.K., acknowledges the role of metering in reducing demand and leakages. However, it remains concerned that a move to compulsory metering could lead to increases in bills for some customers, and in turn potentially to increasing bad debt. There is also the challenge of unwinding existing cross subsidies as people move to meters, which could see the bills of unmetered customers, who also tend to be on lower incomes, rising faster than the average.

In a recent policy paper Water UK recommended, in addition to the above target, that properties should be metered on change of ownership, and that alternative tariffs should be evaluated, particularly using smart metering technology. The body also recommended that the acceptability of social tariffs should be explored with government.