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Water firms asked to bid for sewer flood money

WATER COMPANIES were this week asked to make extra bids to deal with sewer flooding.

The move, by water regulator Ofwat, follows an announcement in principle that extra funds would be released to deal with flooded sewers (NCE 21 March).

Firms will be allowed to bid for extra funding to cover the sewer flooding backlog on top of their overall capital needs for the next five year period, which are assessed when Ofwat sets water pricing levels. The next price review takes effect from March 2005.

Dealing with the current backlog by 'logging up' onto the next financial settlements will require companies to set out a system for prioritising cases.

Rules for listing each case include agreement with the consumer body the Water Voice Committee that each scheme will give value for money.

Key benefits resulting in successful applications will include reduction of flooding inside people's houses. But Ofwat now also agrees that reduction of external flooding can be considered and that general environmental damage is also a factor.

Companies are asked to rule out particularly expensive cases as part of the current backlog covering the period upto 2005. It can cost between £40,000 and £150,000 to deal with individual cases. Total investment need could exceed £1bn. More expensive cases may be considered to cover the spending period from 2005-2010, said Ofwat.

Water Voice welcomed confirmation that funding controls will be relaxed and cash made available to deal with sewer flooding. 'The issue of sewer flooding is important enough to make an exception, ' it said.

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