Six firms losing war on leakage

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Leakage actually increased at six water companies over the past year, despite the pressures of drought and reams of bad publicity about how much water the firms have been wasting, the industry's economic regulator, Ofwat, said yesterday.

But Mid-Southern Water's leakage rose by 6 per cent since last year, from 196 litres per property per day to 205 litres - the highest increase recorded by any company. The company serves 650,000 people on the southern fringes of London and Surrey.

The other five offenders are: mid-Southern's sister company, Eastbourne- based South East Water, which serves 650,000 in west Kent and Sussex, Wrexham, Three Valleys, covering a large swathe of country north-east of London, Bournemouth and West Hampshire, and Northumbrian, with 2.5 million consumers in England's far north-east.

The most impressive performance in cutting leakage came from the giant Severn Trent company, with a 24 per cent fall over the year, followed by Chester, with a 23 per cent reduction.

Britain's biggest water company, Thames, cut leakage by a modest 2.3 per cent and remains the largest overall leaker, with 321 litres lost per property per day.