Ofwat urged to recognise the true value of water in London

Water must be managed better in London, and leakage rates are not likely to improve significantly because Ofwat targets are not stringent enough, according to the London Assembly.

A report issued today by the Assembly’s Health and Environment Committee, issues a range of recommendations for managing water supplies more effectively and avoiding drought restrictions in the future.

Despite heavy rain – with more expected today, the report, called Water Matters, warns that the capital cannot rely solely on its own rainfall. It claims that uncertainties about future rainfall, an increasing population and the effects of climate change, are placing more pressure on water supplies.

Although there have been improvements from water companies, a quarter of London’s treated drinking water is still lost through leakage. The report suggests that because all four of London’s water companies are already meeting or beating their Ofwat targets set up to 2015, leakage rates are unlikely to improve in the next few years.

The report calls for Ofwat to take into account long-term economic, social and environmental costs of supplying water when it calculates leakage targets.

The Assembly’s findings say there is plenty to be done to reduce the amount of water Londoners use – currently around 167 litres per day – such as implementing aerators on taps and using hosepipe fittings. It also called on DECC to reconsider excluding cold water efficiency measures when the National Green Deal is implemented.

In addition, the Assembly has called for water companies to install more water meters – currently only around a quarter of households in London have them.

The capital was officially in drought earlier this year after two consecutive years of below average rainfall and this, coupled with London’s population forecasted to grow by one million by 2031, worries the Assembly.

Health and Environment Committee chair Murad Qureshi AM, said:

“Water is a precious resource that is in limited supply and more must be done to preserve it if we’re to avoid a repeat of drought restrictions in future years.

“Our report sets out practical steps that can be taken in London to ease the pressure on our water supplies by reducing leakage and consumption in the home.”

Conor McGlone

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