Water White Paper meanders around metering

CIWEM has welcomed the publication of the Government’s Water White Paper and believes that it places priority on the right issues for action, although it lacks strength in a number of key areas.

Whilst broadly the White Paper is positive, CIWEM believes that it contains a clear contradiction: How can we value water and not take it for granted, but yet not pay a price for water that properly recognises its true value? The fairest way to ensure this is to establish widespread metering allied to flexible and social tariffs.

Clear recognition

CIWEM is pleased to note the clear recognition of the importance of the water environment and the need to ensure that the pressure of climate change, demographics and consumption do not result in unsustainable exploitation of resources and damage to freshwater habitats.

Innovative approach

Nick Reeves OBE, CIWEM’s Executive Director said: We welcome the programme of work set out for 2012 which should ensure progress on a number of key issues including a Water Bill, the widespread focus on catchment approaches, a national strategy on urban diffuse pollution, guidance to water companies on social tariffs, a national SUDs standard and approval system and new guidance to OFWAT on social and environmental factors.”

Nick went on to say: “We agree there is a need for water companies to take a more innovative approach to managing water; there remains inertia and risk aversion within the water industry that has been exacerbated by the way that OFWAT has hitherto regulated the sector.  We hope that this White Paper will help in driving forward a more innovative and sustainable water industry.

“Broadly this is a positive document which should set in motion work on a number of fronts that will in time deliver positive benefit for the environment and society. But central to this is that we value our water properly and in order to do this we need to measure water use accurately and then utilise tariffs that discourage profligacy and support those who generally struggle to afford their water. This White Paper does too little to encourage wider metering which is a crucial part of this balance.”

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