London, U.K. --- (METERING.COM) --- October 23, 2008 - During 2007-08, water companies in England and Wales installed 346,000 meters in household properties, some 45,000 more than had been envisaged, the regulator Ofwat found in its water company performance review for the year.

Of these, 284,000 meters were installed at the request of consumers while a further 62,000 consumers in existing billed properties were selectively metered by the companies.

Over the past three years companies have installed almost 200,000 meters more than Ofwat had assumed at its 2004 price review. At that review Ofwat’s expectation was that the percentage of metered domestic properties would rise from 26 percent in 2004-05 to 35 percent by 2009-10, but already the figure stands at 33 percent.

However, the penetration varies greatly between companies, ranging from almost 70 percent (Tendring Hundred Water Services) to 10 percent (Portsmouth Water). According to Ofwat United Utilities has fallen further behind this year in its overall metering program, and is now the only company that is behind on expectations, while eight companies have fallen behind with their selective metering programs, and all are expected to catch up between now and 2010.

The review says that 2007/08 was a challenging year for the water companies, in particular due to the widespread flooding and subsequent service failure. In general, the companies delivered high levels of reliability and service to most customers – in most cases equaling or exceeding their performance in the previous year. The top performing companies were Tendring Hundred and Cambridge Water, while the lowest performing was Severn Trent, largely as a result of unplanned interruptions.

Most companies are on target to deliver the requisite security of supply, and all companies met their leakage targets. Compared with 2006-07, leakage across the companies fell by 127 Ml/d, and at around 3,300 Ml/d is now 36 percent lower than at its peak in the mid-1990s.

Moreover, companies that had performed badly in responding to consumer contacts in previous years have now resolved these issues, and metered billing performance improved, with 99.7 percent of metered bills being based on at least one meter reading in the year, compared with 99.1 percent in 2006-07.

Notwithstanding these improvements Ofwat warns that it will continue to scrutinize the companies’ performance to ensure that they do not become complacent and where necessary will take steps to make improvements.