WATER USE in south east England has dipped for the first time this millennium.
Following annual rises in domestic water use each year since 2000/01, new data from the South East England Regional Assembly shows that the average person used less water in 2004/05 compared to the previous year.
In unmetered households each person used 1,460 litres less water in a year, down from 172litres to 168 litres per day. In metered households each person's consumption fell by one litre, from 156 to 155 litres per day.
In a region with more than eight million residents, this represents a signicant saving.
The Assembly found that factors contributing to the reduction included metering and a greater use of water efficient appliances such as dual ush toilets and water efficient showers.
The figures are revealed in the Assembly's Regional Monitoring Report which draws on national, regional and local data to monitor progress of current planning guidance for the south east.
The Assembly's future development strategy, released in draft form last month, acknowledges that water efficiency must be improved in order to allow housing growth in the region.
But it also believes that four new reservoirs will be needed.