U.K. government to consider widespread water metering


Hilary Benn,
U.K. Secretary of
State for
Environment, Food
and Rural Affairs
London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — July 25, 2008 – The U.K. government has announced that it is currently commissioning an independent review to provide advice on widespread water metering and charging, with a particular focus on the social, economic and environmental concerns.

Currently water companies in areas of serious water stress – in particular in the southeast of the country – are able to seek compulsory metering, where the metering can be demonstrated to be a cost effective means of maintaining the supply demand balance within their water resources management plans.

There is now a good case for examining the costs and benefits of metering and appropriate tariffs outside areas of serious water stress, in the context of a wider review of charging that will look at issues of efficiency and fairness, says the government, in a progress report on actions taken to encourage water conservation since 2004, following the introduction of the Water Act.

Currently about 30% of households in England have a water meter and on average households have been found to reduce their water consumption by around 10% after a meter is fitted.

According to the report average household consumption remained relatively stable over the four year period – of which two of the years were drought years – and it appears that the per capita consumption in many other countries in the European Union is now substantially lower than in the UK.

However, since 2004 total leakage was reduced by 200 million litres per day (around 5%) and the leakage rates are now comparable to some of the lowest in Europe. Indeed the majority of companies are now at their economic level of leakage. Of the water lost through leakage about one quarter is lost through customers’ supply pipes rather than the water companies’ own pipes, and new technology and improved management techniques are expected to improve the finding and fixing of leaks in the long term.

In its Future Water strategy released in February the government set the target to reduce per capita consumption of water from the current 150 l per person per day down to 130 litres per person per day by 2030.

Approaches to achieving this reduction in demand are continued reductions in leakage, along with better building design and more efficient appliances, improved industrial processes, sustained behavior change and near universal metering in areas of serious water stress by 2030, the report says

In introducing the report Hilary Benn, secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, said that pressures on water resources are set to increase. “Climate change is expected to bring drier, hotter summers and more intense and sporadic winter rain. Rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns are likely to change the public demand for water.”