Walker wants Ofwat to lead metering implementation

Industry regulator Ofwat should lead the transition to water metering as part of an overall government policy to keep total costs down. The recommendation is one of several proposed by Anna Walker in her independent Final Report on Charging for Household Water and Sewerage Services.

She proposes a rapid increase in the number of households with water meters during the next decade, as paying for the water used rather than a fixed charge helps improve water efficiency. She also suggests that:

  • Water customers should no longer pay in their water bills for draining highways and cleaning up the pollution caused by other sectors
  • The charging system needs to incentivise the efficient use of water

Commenting on the report, Walker said: “A combination of significant population growth, the effects of climate change and the need to renew what is often Victorian infrastructure will put increasing pressure on both the availability and the cost of water. We need to tackle these challenges now, before they become major problems.

“The charging system can play an important role in this. The regulatory system has generally served us well so far, with real improvements in the quality of our services. But changes will be needed if we are to meet future challenges.”

She said that good water and sewerage supplies “are vital for the UK”, and addressing future challenges now will be better than waiting to tackle them.

Water UK has largely welcomed the recommendations. Pamela Taylor, the company’s chief executive, said: “Anna Walker’s review provides fresh thinking about urgent questions facing the water industry, its regulators and the government.

“Some of the proposals make more sense than others, but the review sets a new and valuable direction for policy debate.

It would be a pity if the report were allowed to gather dust. We hope ministers will examine the recommendations carefully and involve all sides in devising and implementing solutions.”

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