Regulator looks at water woes
Investment will need to be ploughed into the UK's water network, to replace ageing infrastructure, prevent pollution and protect us from the worst effects of climate change, according to environmental regulators.
"There are many factors that will influence water prices, such as capital investments, the cost of borrowing, operational obligations and the scope to improve efficiency," said Environment Agency chairman Sir John Harman.
"It is equally important to ensure environmental obligations are recognised. There has been considerable reduction in the environmental impact of water company abstractions and discharges over the past 20 years, and this has led to an improvement in the quality of our rivers and beaches.
"However, there is still much to do. At the current rate of replacement it will take some companies hundreds of years to lay new water and sewage pipes, and build new water treatment plants.
"Issues surrounding the ever-increasing demand for water, the effects of and climate change and further environmental improvements are all important and will influence the review."
The agency has outlined five priorities in this area:
Responsibility for managing these different sources of water is fragmented between different organisations, including water companies, local authorities and the Environment Agency and others. The problem will increase with development pressures, climate change and ageing infrastructure.