Bottom Line: Low water marks

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The Independent Online
THIS year's water company results season has been something of an anti-climax because all thoughts are directed to 28 July when Ofwat unveils its new price formula.

At least at Wessex Water, the last of the companies to report, a pat on the back may be justified. But Severn Trent, Thames, and the 900 workers facing redundancy at Anglian, are learning the hard way about the need for performance.

The wasted investment on disastrous diversifications at home and overseas has been all too evident in the latest batch of figures.

Water companies deserve no praise for trimming back their costs now.

They have had a pretty generous ride from the regulator, a point that won't be lost on Ofwat's Ian Byatt when he announces the new 'K' factors.

Shareholders have had a good deal out of their investment in water companies, so perhaps it is time for Mr Byatt to redress the balance by keeping price rises and costs down.