01/03/2006

Water firm to introduce meters

A water company in the south east of England has been given permission to install compulsory water meters in homes.

Folkestone and Dover Water Services was granted "water scarcity status", which will allow it to force all 65,000 homes in its service area to install meters.

There are fears that the south east of England faces a serious drought this summer. Four water firms - Sutton and East Surrey Water, Southern Water, South East Water and Mid Kent Water - have all introduced hosepipe bans.

Forty per cent of households serviced by Folkestone and Dover Water already have water meters, but the water company plans to increase this to 90% by 2015. The company estimates that this will help households to reduce their water use by 10-15%.

Commenting on the decision, Elliot Morley, Environment Minister, said: "In many parts of the country, water is a precious resource which we can no longer simply take for granted.

"Folkestone and Dover will face increasing difficulty over the next ten years in matching its limited water resources to the growing amount of water used. Metering will have an important role to play in helping to reduce this demand as well as sending a signal about the benefits of water saving."

The government said that other companies with long-term water supply concerns could consider making their own applications for water scarcity status, with each case being decided on a case-by-case basis.

The move has caused controversy, with some critics of the scheme regarding it as rationing by price.

When Labour was in opposition, they were opposed to the idea, calling it a "tax on family life".

(KMcA/GB)




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