Water bills up by 4.1%

The average household will pay 4.1% more for water supply and sewage treatment over the coming year.

Water watchdog Ofwat says it permitted the price hike, which is above the rate of inflation, to allow utility companies to continue their investment in improving the network and services.

Prices for the five-year period from 2005 to 2010 were set in 2004 when economic prospects looked rosier.

Ofwat acknowledged that rising bills would always be unwelcome, particularly in the current economic climate, but argued that the increase was justified in light of improvements to water quality, reduction in leaks and the scale of work required to replace ageing pipework and other infrastructure.

Regina Finn, Ofwat chief executive said: “We needed to make some tough decisions back in 2004 when we set prices. Further investment was vital, but we needed to strike a balance with keeping bills down.

“Our work has kept customers’ bills around £100 lower than they would otherwise have been.

“No one wants to see bills increasing, particularly in tough economic times. Yet over the last 20 years we have made sure that this essential investment has delivered very real benefits for us all.

“Our polluted rivers and beaches meant we were viewed as the dirty man of Europe. Now we have more than 120 Blue Flag beaches.

“The Mersey was known as the most polluted river in Western Europe but now is home to breeding salmon. Leakage has fallen by over a third since 1995, while the quality of our drinking water is now up there with the best in the world.”

She also said that leaks had been reduced by a third over the past 20 years, 20,000km of pipe had been replaced over the past five years and the number of homes at the highest risk of flooding had been significantly reduced in recent years.

As previously reported by edie, water companies want to increase bills by about 9% over the rate of inflation during the next pricing period from 2010 to 2015.

David Gibbs

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