Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

ICE calls for compulsory water metering

The ICE has today challenged government policy by pushing for compulsory water metering as a means of improving the UK’s future water security.

In its State of the Nation: Water report, published today, the Institution says: “UK governments, regulators and water companies must implement universal metering … so that all water users pay for the water they use.”

This stance is at odds with current government policy. In last year’s water White Paper, the government said: “We will not impose a blanket approach to metering across the country,” adding: “ We believe water companies are best placed to find the appropriate local solution in discussion with their customers.”

ICE water panel chairman Michael Norton acknowledged that the report’s stance is a “challenge” to current government thinking, but said that it is vital that society starts to understand the true value of water.

The report also called on central and the devolved governments to establish a UK water security task force that should publish an integrated water security strategy by spring 2014 at the latest.

The ICE’s report was published as the Environment Agency eased fears of further water restrictions this summer, but warned that with groundwater levels still low in some areas and unlikely to improve before winter, plans needed to be put in place to protect water supplies next year if another dry winter further reduces these underground stocks.

  • Read a full report on the ICE’s water stance in next week’s NCE.

Readers' comments (5)

  • I live in Edinburgh. The city's water supply, almost entirely engineered by the firm J&A Leslie & Reid was excellent but, sadly has gone downhill and the prices up since the advent of Scottish Water. I lived in Singapore for many years. Its water supply is heavily dependent upon neighbouring Malaysia, the treaties expire in 2060, which from time to time threatens to shut off the supply. Water is metered in Singapore and I have a 10 year record of my monthly consumption. To escape the risks to its supply Singapore has introduced a new reservoir fed by surface run-off from 25% of its land area, mostly streets, housing, business and industrial areas. This water is then treated. Singapore has also introduced revers osmosis of its sewage effluent. This water is currently mostly used in industries such as wafer fab though some is bottled fro drinking. The cost of water, the full cost of production, is born by its clients and it is relatively cheap. It is of course of the best drinking quality.
    In contrast, my water in Edinburgh costs me seven times as much. I have asked about a metered supply which would cost me several hundred pounds to have installed but am advised that it would cost me more than my unmetered supply.
    There is something very wrong with our water supplies.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Just out of curiosity, how many of the authors of the report and of council have meters? Hope we're not advocating something we don't do ourselves after all the excellent publicity the report got.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Well done ICE. That's the only and right way forward. Everything else is just sweet talk and faking numbers. Only money and price can change behaviour and will actually speed up installation of new water saving equipment, innovation processes and sustainable developments. A fair water price based on consumption regulates markets better than any other legislation to save water voluntarily.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • It is not the behaviour of the customers that we should be addressing as our pimaty concern but the amazing rip off of the UK consumer. All the reasoning behind privatisation of water was to ensure investment in the old leaky infrastruciure. Therer has however been precious little of the required investment and the leakage level has continued or increased whilst the management of the privatge water companies have rewwarded themselves at a level second only to bankers. The only privatisation thsat ever worked was Telecoms and that was because no-one could be less efficient than the old Post Office Telephone boys. cf Bell in the US!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • In response to Neville: The fact that someone who is a member of the ICE (I assume) believes that there has been 'precious little' investment in UK water infrastructure beggars belief. The huge investment made in improving water treatment, wastewater treatment, sludge disposal (still dumped in the North Sea when I started working at Anglian Water in 1993!) , sewerage and water networks and CSOs since privitisation has kept many civil engineers in work and been regularly covered in nce. At the same time the regulator (in an admittedly imperfect regulatory mechanism) has continued to put tight pressure on water charges, to ensure efficiency improvements are made to mitigate the impact to consumers. Water companies are far from a license to print money.
    Peter: It's all well and good comparing Singapore to Edinburgh but.... What is their respective cost base? How much does bulk electricity cost them? What is the length of water / sewer per capita that has to be maintained? What is the age of the assets? What are the labour costs? What are the emission requirements on the wastewater plants? What are their infrastructure funding mechanisms? etc etc. As I'm sure you know there is more to water than the clear stuff in the glass at the end of your tap!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.