WATER COMPANIES were this week expected to exploit fears of a summer drought to push the case for water meters.
They will also use the prospects of water shortages to push their case for taking over mains supply pipes on customers' property.
This would enable them to maintain them and eliminate leaks.
Supply pipes into domestic properties are currently owned by individual householders and water metering is voluntary.
'Every cloud has a silver lining and a drought would defi ely add weight to the argument for compulsory metering and taking ownership of the assets, ' said one senior Yorkshire Water engineer.
Britain has just experienced the driest 14 months since 1976, and needs heavy rain this spring to reduce the risk of a drought.
. River and reservoir levels in the south are below average and 3.4M people are subject to water use restrictions (see box).
Water company engineers are under pressure from the Environment Agency to make households more water efficient.
'Water companies have not got the information that they need to justify this work to the regulator and there are not many senior figures in the industry who take it as seriously as they should, ' Agency head of water resources management Trevor Bishop told a conference organised by consultant RPS Water in Cheshire last week.
'We have to engage hearts and minds, ' he said.