Water firms given 40% efficiency target

Water companies will be expected to increase water efficiency savings by 40% from 2010 under targets announced by the industry watchdog.

Ofwat said the demanding targets to save at least 23m litres of water a day – about one litre per household per day – were a response to “lacklustre performance” by some water suppliers to help customers cut water usage.

The regulator wants the water industry to provide household and business customers with more information on using water wisely, and to dish out more water-saving devices.

It said enough water to fill more than 3,300 Olympic swimming pools a year could be saved under the targets, alongside the savings that will be made from leakage targets and increasing water metering.

“Some companies need to do more to help customers cut waste and use water efficiently,” Regina Finn, chief executive of Ofwat said. “This is good customer service and helps customers on meters control their bills.”

“Companies will be stretched by these targets, but this is about customers getting a fair deal and using water sustainably.”

She said Ofwat will not allow customers’ bills to rise to achieve the targets, which will be introduced on a trial basis from April 2009 before coming into full effect in 2010.

Water UK, the body which represents the water industry, said it was concerned about how companies would fund extra water saving initiatives.

A spokesman told edie: “It’s assumed that they can be done without any additional funding.”

He added: “Targets in themselves are perhaps part of the picture, but don’t forget that people save water, not water companies.

“We can have all the activity targets we like, but if people are not convinced that’s the thing they ought to be doing, the per capita consumption could still go up.”

In England and Wales, people used an average of 148 litres each a day in 2007-08, compared to Germany where people used an average of just 125 litres a day.

Kate Martin

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