Water meters 'cost more than repairing mains'
A key argument for installing meters is that they force households to be more thrifty with water and fix dripping taps. Across large parts of the country, meters could hold down the steadily rising demand for water and thereby delay the need for expensive new reservoirs, boreholes and supply systems.
Nowhere is the argument stronger than in the Anglian and Southern regions, where there is greatest pressure on resources. Demand is forecast to rise by as much as a quarter by 2010. Although recent heavy rains have restored reservoir and groundwater levels after years of drought, there is no guarantee of future freedom from shortages if demand is not curtailed.
Stan Bessey, chairman of the industry's National Leakage Control Initiative, argues that it would be much cheaper to control rising demand by tackling mains leakage rather than installing meters over the next 10 to 20 years.
Mr Bessey, Bristol Water's distribution manager, says that companies with the lowest leakage levels (6 per cent) are spending about pounds 6 per household each year on detecting and plugging mains leaks. Those that spend less tend to lose more water - the maximum leakage is 36 per cent.
The cost of supplying, installing and running a water meter for a decade works out at about pounds 40 per household per year. National trials have shown that meters cut household water consumption by 10 to 20 per cent.
'Controlling leakage is certainly the most cost effective way of shaving off consumption for now,' Mr Bessey said.
Bristol Water, with a million customers, has beaten an underlying rise in demand and kept water input steady by investing in leakage control. The company has been able to delay spending pounds 20m on a new water supply plant for more than five years.
- 1 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 2 Watch: Man takes selfie every mile of 2,600 mile hike, creates amazing timelapse video
- 3 The day I starred in Only Fools and Horses
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
#FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
Andreas Lubitz: Knee-jerk reaction to 9/11 enabled mass murder
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...