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Water Supply

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN HL1932, tabled on 26 September 2014

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the amount of water in the United Kingdom that is lost through leakage between source and consumer; and what steps are being taken to end the current position where the consumer pays for such losses through price.

Answered on

14 October 2014

The most recently available figures estimate that across England and Wales around 3.1 billion litres of water leaks each day. Ofwat, as the economic regulator, agrees maximum leakage targets with water companies and has the powers to issue penalties to companies that fail to meet these. In the last decade Ofwat has entered into legal agreements with water companies that have missed their targets, committing them to investing more than £230m in improvements on leakage.

The Government and Ofwat have worked together to raise the issue of leakage and have worked with the water companies to reduce total leakage by one third since its peak in the mid-90s. Over the next five years, across England and Wales, companies are proposing further work to reduce leakage further. Innovative changes in leak detection technology and large scale programmes of customer engagement have allowed companies to improve their understanding of the problems across their networks and how their customers expect them to respond, allowing the companies to take a much more proactive approach to leakage reduction. Companies are obliged to publish and explain their annual leakage figures on their websites and outline what steps they intend to take to meet their targets in future.

In its current price review Ofwat has made it clear that it expects to see companies achieve a balance between keeping customers’ bills down and reducing leakage where it makes sense, such as in water stressed areas where customers are willing to pay.