London, U.K. --- (METERING.COM) --- July 6, 2012 - The British government’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has called for the setting of a clear and ambitious objective to increase levels of water metering, as part of efforts to better manage the nation’s water supplies.

The call is made in response to the recent Water White Paper, which rejected a blanket approach to water metering, saying that local solutions should be left to the individual water companies.

In setting a target account should be taken of the recommendation from the “Walker review” of 80 percent metering penetration by 2020, the Committee said. Currently about 40 percent of domestic customers across England and Wales are water metered.

Commenting on the Water White Paper, the Committee in its report said it is extremely disappointing that while placing such an emphasis on valuing water, it says so little about metering. With water set to become an increasingly scarce resource, the government should use water meters as a means to encourage responsible use of water.

The Committee noted that the Walker review concluded that universal metering could save about 16 percent of average household demand. Further, persuasive evidence was heard on the role that metering plays in reducing demand during the course of the inquiry. Wessex Water told that metering was the single most significant measure in promoting water efficiency and that fitting a meter on a change of occupancy reduces average consumption by 15 percent and peak consumption by over 20 percent.

The Committee also noted that it is conscious that a switch to metering could see bills rise for some poorer households as their bills reflect the amount of water that they use rather than the value of their homes. However, the provision of appropriate support for such households is a distinct issue which should be addressed alongside, but separately from, the clear imperative to increase levels of metering.

The Committee also commented on the impact of bad debt on customer bills – currently about £15 per customer bill – and urged the implementation of available provisions to enable water companies to more easily recover these debts.

Water companies and the regulator are also urged to do more to reduce the amount of water that is wasted through leakage.