LETTER : Save water by the meter

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Sir: If the Environment Secretary were seriously attempting to re-sell privatisation to the public, then instead of wasting time toying with the notion of introducing some form of competition (which is obviously unattainable in a system which depends upon single supply pipes to each household) perhaps he should instead address a far more easily-remedied source of irritation which appears to apply uniquely to water supply:

Whereas my gas (metered) and electricity (metered) bills show me how much of the product I have used, and are presented after consumption; and whereas I normally pay for every other consumable after delivery or use, the water bill which I have just paid appears to be for water and sewerage services to be rendered in the course of the next six months. The water companies are therefore demanding, and receiving on a permanent basis, an interest-free six-months loan from every one of their captive customers.

Presumably the introduction of metering would deprive the water companies of the last vestige of an excuse for this practice, and with it the benefit of this otherwise quite unjustifiable source of free capital. No wonder they refuse to take metering seriously - even though, in time of drought, they find themselves bereft of the essential lever with which to motivate their customers in the direction of economy.

J D Humphreys