Change your model to mitigate climate change, water firms warned
Water companies need to change their business models to ensure security of supply and support the economy, according to industry watchdog Waterwise.
Speaking to edie following publication of Defra's draft water bill yesterday, Waterwise policy director Nicci Russell said the proposals, if adopted, would encourage water companies to offer a more "complete package" of services to businesses including advice and practical help in reducing water usage.
However, she added that water companies needed to expand this service to consumers as well if they are to ensure secure water supplies.
She further pointed out that these firms currently spend less than 1% on managing water demand by encouraging reduced use - as opposed to meeting water supply.
Waterwise is also disappointed that the Government is not considering allowing water companies to bring in blanket metering.
"Water companies can only bring in metering in water stressed areas, but just because an area isn't water stressed now doesn't mean it won't be in five years' time," said Russell. "It's completely unpredictabl,e but our economy relies so much on water supply."
Russell believed the Government had missed an opportunity by not introducing a 'water green deal' whereby water firms can go into houses and retrofit taps, toilets and showers with devices that reduce water wastage.
Compared to the green deal, where households are offered free or subsidised insulation to make their homes more energy efficient, this would be a lot cheaper at between £50 and £100 per household.
Russell added that the water companies must continue to reduce the amount of water lost through pipe leakage if they are to get the general public on side.
"They can't control the weather or climate change but they can spend their money a bit differently [by tackling leaks]. This is a basic barrier to getting customers to change their behaviour around water usage."
Anglian Water covers one of the driest regions of the UK and around 80% of its customers are on water meters - the national average is 30%. Customers save around £100 a year and reduce water consumption by 15%.
It also has a scheme offering all customers free devices to fit onto taps and in toilets to reduce water use. Spokesperson Satnam Wahiwala said that its leakage rate is half the industry average and this has helped to encourage customers to change their behaviour around water usage.