Metering Print

Waterwise would like to see a water meter in every home in England and Wales by 2020 – supported by tariffs to protect low-income and other vulnerable groups. This should be linked with government plans to deliver smart energy meters in all homes, including by considering the use of technologies which would enable water and energy consumption to be displayed alongside each other in the future.

Only a third of homes in England and Wales pay their water bills according to the amount they actually use: less than 1% in Scotland. It is generally accepted that metering leads to about a 10% reduction in water use. The UK government has recently taken steps to enable water companies to compulsorily meter in water-stressed areas in England, which Waterwise very much welcomes. In the context of UK climate change mitigation, we consider that the areas currently designated as water-stressed in England (primarily in the South East and East) could very likely be joined by others.

Waterwise welcomes statements by successive Environment Ministers in the last few years that metering is the most sustainable way to pay for water – rather than paying based on the rateable value of a home, which was last updated in 1973. We also welcome the words of Defra’s Future Water strategy, published February 2008, that “Our current system of charging based largely on the value of people’s homes 35 years ago, is archaic and rife with anomalies. We need a fairer system that offers incentives to conserve water. In areas of serious water stress it’s pretty clear that this will mean near universal metering before 2030”.

Waterwise looks forward to the interim report of the Walker Review of charging and metering for water and sewerage services.