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Water companies face tougher leak targets call

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WATER COMPANY targets for cutting leaks must be reviewed and toughened up in response to water shortages in the south east, the Environment Agency said last week.

'Leakage targets need to be reviewed to reflect the scarcity of water in the south east and the pressures of rising demand and climate change, ' said the Agency's head of water resources, Ian Barker.

'Water companies need to be doing more to find and leaks as quickly as possible and it is essential companies continue to be set challenging targets to reduce leakage further.' He was speaking as water regulator Ofwat published the latest water company leakage gures.

Of the 22 water companies in the UK, four failed to meet targets set by the regulator. They were Severn Trent, Southern Water, Thames Water and United Utilities.

Severn Trent was the worst offender. Its leakage rate increased by 40Ml/d, up to 540Ml/d from 500Ml/d (see table below).

The company said a skills shortage was in part responsible for the poor performance.

'Finding suitably skilled staff has been one of the problems we've faced, as there is a high demand from all utility sectors for maintenance crews and we're bound by the EU's working time directive, so crews could not work more than 48 hours per week, ' said engineering and leakage director Mike Bishop.

'We're addressing the long term skills shortage by introducing an apprenticeship scheme to attract and train new staff to the industry.' The Environment Agency is currently reviewing the methodology used to set leakage targets and is planning to revise the system to incorporate demand management and efciency targets (NCE 6 July).

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