Water meters - we’re picking up the tab for poor planning

I understand the local water supply companies are now implementing a programme of compulsory water meters throughout the South-East, often against the wishes of some of their customers. Their reasoning is that the South-East is a ‘water stress’ area and households who have water meters generally use less water than those that do not have a meter.

Is it not rather stating the obvious to say people with water meters use less water? Of course they do! Most of those who have chosen to have a meter installed did so because they already used less water than average, probably as a single person household or perhaps a couple, and therefore they saved money by becoming a ‘pay-as-you-go’ customer rather than paying water rates.

If the South-East is now a ‘water stress area’ whose fault is this? Hundreds of thousands of extra homes have been built here over the past few decades without the required infrastructure, including water supply, being put in place to serve the extra residents. How many new reservoirs have the South-East’s water suppliers constructed since they were privatised in the 1980s? Compare this to the number of extra (paying) customers they have gained during the same period and the problem becomes obvious. It is certainly not the fault of the existing customers who are now being asked to pick up the tab for the poor planning by those involved in these developments.

When all the privatisations were being carried out in the 1980s it was all done in the name of ‘competition,’ with various pro-privatisation people claiming it would benefit consumers. In the case of water however this is clearly not the case, as it is not possible to switch to another provider who can offer you a better deal, as it is with electricity, gas or telecommunications.

It now seems obvious that the motive behind this move to inflict water meters on those who do not want them is profit orientated, in order to make up the loss of income from those who chose to have a meter installed and are now paying less to the water companies than they used to.

Perhaps if the water suppliers fixed the extraordinary amount of leakage in their pipes instead of wasting time installing water meters against the will of some of their customers, there would not be quite so much ‘water stress’ in the South-East.

M C Young