U.K. water companies given stringent savings targets


Regina Finn,
Chief Executive,
London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — November 21, 2008 – U.K. water companies have been told to increase water efficiency savings by 40 percent from 2010, amounting to a saving of at least 23 Ml/d, or an average saving of one liter per property per day.

This, the regulator Ofwat, says, is a response to the lacklustre performance by some companies on helping their customers use water more wisely.

In 2007/08 the average household consumption per head across England and Wales was 148 l/d, but the water usage of households varies significantly from company to company.

“Water is an increasingly valuable resource and we all have a responsibility to conserve it,” says Ofwat chief executive Regina Finn. “Companies will be stretched by these targets, but this is about customers getting a fair deal, and using water sustainably.”

When it comes to the amount of water used by households, England and Wales lag significantly behind many European countries, including Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.

In Germany, for example, average consumption is 125 l per person per household per day following a 15 percent reduction between 1990 and 2005. In the Netherlands household usage was reduced by approximately ten percent over ten years to 124 l per person per day by 2004.

Companies are required to deliver the savings by providing household and business customers with information on how to use water sensibly. They must also promote the use of water saving devices. Moreover Ofwat will not allow customers’ bills to rise to achieve these targets, which will be introduced on a trial basis from April 2009 and come into full effect in 2010.

In addition to these efficiency targets, in terms of Ofwat’s water supply and demand policy the water companies should assess the case for selective or planned metering, taking into account all of the costs and benefits. Such proposals will be included in the baseline assumptions for the 2009 pricing review, as long as it can be shown that the benefits are likely to outweigh the costs as part of a long term strategy.

Based on a simple calculation Ofwat estimates the average household bill would rise by about £13 to increase the metering penetration to 90 percent, and that the resultant average saving would be about £11, but wider benefits are expected to bridge that gap.