UK customer priority is reduction of lead in water

Reducing the concentration of lead in drinking water and reducing the risk of homes being flooded by sewage are important to customers, with 75 per cent or more saying that they were extremely important in a recent survey.

The survey, which was carried out on behalf of Ofwat as part of the 1999 Periodic Review, examined customers’ priorities for service improvements and the possible impact on bills.

Some 1,200 customers of four water and sewerage companies were interviewed. The regions – covered by Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, North West Water, Severn Trent Water and South West Water – were chosen to give a range of bill levels and possible improvements.

The research showed a degree of support for service improvements. Across all four regions, customers rated reducing sewer flooding and reducing lead in drinking water as the most important of a range of possible improvements. Customers also supported action to deal with unsatisfactory storm overflows.

While recognising that it is vital to know what people think Water UK was not happy with the results: “We’re concerned that this survey was restricted to just the west of the country including areas where bills have increased, mostly as a result of heavy investment on environmental improvements. It’s important therefore that these results are not seen as representing customers’ views nationally,” said Pamela Taylor, chief executive of Water UK.

Support for other improvements, such as improvements to rivers, bathing water and discoloured drinking water, varied between the regions and was constrained where bills or the cost of improvements were high.

Customers also supported an early reduction in prices, even if that meant subsequent increases in bills to finance improvements. 90 per cent of the respondents in all the regions rated improvements that could be made to protect the environment as important. In the South West protecting the environment was more of a priority then improving healthcare.

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