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Government releases ‘water strategy’

by David Masters
February 12, 2008

The Government has revealed a new water strategy for England, which includes plans to phase out phosphates from cleaning products, widespread water metering, and new planning regulations to reduce storm water run-off.

Hilary Benn, environmental secretary, has said that there should be “near universal” metering by 2030 in areas of potential water scarcity. He also proposed that homeowners should have to apply for planning permission to pave over their front gardens with non-permeable materials, which increase the risk of surface water flooding.

According to Mr. Benn, the metering of water reduces domestic consumption by an average of 10%, and as such would help to meet the strategy’s target of reducing individual’s daily water consumption from 130 litres to 150 litres.

The different options for increasing the uptake of metering will be considered by an independent review. The review will also ensure that the implementation of metering is done fairly, and that low income households do not struggle to pay for water.

Mr. Benn said: “The independent review will assess the effectiveness and fairness of different methods of charging, including metering and tariffs.

“Our system of charging, based largely on the value of people’s homes 35 years ago, is archaic and rife with anomalies.

“We need a fairer system that offers incentives to conserve water. In areas of serious water stress it’s pretty clear that this will mean universal water metering before 2030.

“The review will consider how to protect vulnerable groups, like those on low incomes and the elderly.”

The water strategy also includes plans to sign up water companies to the Carbon Reduction Commitment scheme, and calls for an assessment of how flood risk modelling could be undertaken more accurately.

You can read the strategy in full at

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