U.K. water regulator wants to contain water prices


Regina Finn,
CEO, Ofwat
London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — July 28, 2009 – Under draft proposals published by the U.K. water regulator Ofwat, household water bills in England and Wales will remain broadly stable in the years from 2010 to 2015.

Every five years Ofwat sets limits on the prices water and sewerage companies in England and Wales can charge their customers. Its draft proposals follow the submission of water companies’ final business plans in April.

The regulator’s scrutiny of the companies’ business plans will see the average household water and sewerage bill reduced by around four percent or £14 to £330 by 2015.

Companies will still be able to invest extensively. Almost £21 billion will be pumped into helping maintain and improve services to consumers. The proposals will build on the progress made over the last 20 years since privatization, allowing companies to carry on delivering a safe, reliable supply.

“We understand times are hard and we have listened to what customers have told us. They want a safe, reliable water supply at a reasonable cost,” said Ofwat CEO Regina Finn. “People can shop around for the best deal on many things, but not water. That’s why we’ve challenged the companies’ plans rigorously to ensure that customers get the best value for money from the £21 billion of investment.”

Ofwat’s proposals will allow companies to ensure customers continue to see improvements and receive a safe, reliable supply of drinking water. Benefits would include over 10,000 km of water mains being improved or replaced, around 10 million people benefitting from investment to guard against them being without water during extreme events such as flooding, and a reduction to national leakage levels of around 70 million liters a day by 2015.

Investment is also proposed in renewable energy sources to reduce carbon emissions and cut operational costs by around £8.5 million a year.

Companies, customers and interested parties now have the opportunity to present their views on Ofwat’s proposals. Final limits on the prices companies can charge will be published in November. New bills will then come into effect in April 2010.