Leaky pipes continue to lose enough water for 22MILLION customers
- Water lost to leaking pipes in England and Wales rose by 1.5 per cent in 2017-18
- 3,170 mega litres (840million gallons) per day – enough for 22million customers
- Figures follow an average 2 per cent increase in water bills this year, to £405
Water company leakage rates have increased for the second year in a row as firms continue to hand billions to foreign owners, fail on customer service and pay huge salaries to fat cat executives.
The amount of water lost to leaking pipes in England and Wales rose by 1.5 per cent in 2017-18 to 3,170 mega litres (840million gallons) per day – enough to meet the needs of 22million customers.
The Consumer Council for Water report, published today, says nine companies missed leakage reduction targets – including Thames, the UK’s largest, as well as two other major suppliers, Severn Trent and Yorkshire.
The amount of water lost to leaking pipes in England and Wales rose by 1.5 per cent in 2017-18 to 3,170 mega litres (840million gallons) per day – enough to meet the needs of 22million customers
The smaller companies to miss leak reduction targets were Bristol Water, Dee Valley Water, Cambridge Water, South Staffs Water, Essex & Suffolk Water, and Portsmouth Water.
The recent heatwave and lack of rain saw some firms ask customers to limit use by restricting watering gardens and taking showers rather than baths.
However, the CCW warned families were unlikely to take pleas to use supplies more carefully from companies guilty of wasting millions of gallons of treated water every day.
It said water regulator Ofwat has told firms they will need to reduce leakage by 15 per cent between 2020 and 2025 – but that recent problems caused by the weather highlighted the need for immediate action. CCW senior policy manager Karen Gibb said: ‘Water companies must take action to reduce leakage and improve the resilience of their networks, if they want to encourage consumers to commit to using water wisely themselves.’
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The problem of increased leakage was highlighted by Michael Gove at last month. The Environment Secretary called in the chief executives of the failing companies to demand action.
Today’s figures follow an average 2 per cent increase in water bills this year, to £405. Hundreds of thousands of customers were also left without water during the big freeze caused by the ‘Beast from the East’ earlier this year.
Mr Gove said the public has a right to expect a ‘reliable and resilient water supply’ and that water companies ‘have much more to do to tackle leakage’.
Today’s figures follow an average 2 per cent increase in water bills this year, to £405. Hundreds of thousands of customers were also left without water during the big freeze caused by the ‘Beast from the East’ earlier this year
He has been particularly critical of the management of privatised water companies, raising concerns they have been too quick to give huge dividend payments to shareholders – many of which are foreign banks and pension funds – and award massive windfalls to executives.
As a result, Ofwat has drawn up proposals that will force water companies to show how their bosses’ pay levels benefit customers. Some will find this particularly difficult to manage.
Severn Trent – criticised by Ofwat for its handling of the Beast from the East – has paid its chief executive, Liv Garfield, £7million since 2014, according to the GMB union.
The boss of United Utilities, Steve Mogford, has been paid an astonishing £12million since 2013, while Anglia Water’s Peter Simpson picked up £1.5million last year.
Thames Water has said its chief executive Steve Robertson will forgo a bonus for the next two years after it forked out £120million in compensation to customers and penalties for missing targets to cut leaks.
Industry body Water UK said firms had managed to reduce leakage levels by a third since the 1990s, but added: ‘We also know there is more to do, which is why water companies are developing ambitious plans to cut leakage even further.’
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