Letter: Price of water in the North-west

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From Ms Helen Jackson, MP

Sir: Far from ''targeting the rich to beat the drought'', as your headline would have us believe (10 February), North West Water's plans to impose water meters on affluent customers with larger gardens, sprinklers and swimming pools will lead to reduced bills for well-to-do households.

A couple in south Manchester with a large house and garden, plus sprinkler, will pay some pounds 400 to pounds 500 a year in water bills under the existing charging system based on the old council rates. But the average bill for the minority of homes in North West Water's area that already have meters is only pounds 198. As long as the affluent householders do not use water (and sprinklers) extravagantly, they stand to cut the bills quite dramatically if they switch to meters.

North West Water's proposals to install meters in affluent homes has nothing to do with saving water and everything to do with the drive towards universal metering. The best way to save drinking water is to target the 30 per cent that leaks out of water company pipes. In addition, sprinkler users and private swimming pool owners could be charged a percentage on top of their bills to reflect their non-essential use of water.

Yours sincerely,

Helen Jackson

MP for Sheffield Hillsborough (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1