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Extraordinary lengths


Nina Lovelace, in her article on private sewers (NCE 14 March) was referring to the English and Welsh public sewer stock of 301,400km noted in Ofwat's 1999 information note 35B.

Some 100,000km to 125,000km of small diameter sewers to be transferred to the care of sewerage companies suggests some very serious consequences.

In broad terms they are worth some £20 to 30bn.

Reallocation of this infrastructure stock and providing for its maintenance will have significant implications for future charges.

One might have expected that companies would see the change as a welcome opportunity to expand their activities. Much of their profit has been generated on efficiency savings, and much of that in infrastructure capital maintenance.

However the transfer sits uncomfortably with recent claims that there was little merit in discounting bills to customers with private sewers.

The sums involved were said to be insignificant, although the point there related to redistribution of real costs already being incurred.

A second implication may be quite difficult to understand.

This is that an additional 125km would give a sewer stock in public land of 425,000km while we have only 325,000km of equivalent water mains.

Barry Walton (F), waltonba@aol. com

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