Hot weather could push up water prices

By Liz Stephens

Climate change and population growth will mean increased pressures on how much water is available, a report concluded today.

The news comes as the Met Office issued its first heatwave alert of the summer with temperatures expected to hit 32C by the middle of the week.

The independent Review of Charging for Household Water and Sewerage Services found that metering should become the normal method of charging in some parts of the country.

“Most of us currently consider water to be both cheap and plentiful. This will increasingly not be the case in some parts of the country,” said Anna Walker, who led the interim report.

“In future, hotter, drier summers and warmer, wetter, winters will mean a greater likelihood of both drought and flood. Water supply and sewerage systems will need to be able to cope with these more extreme weather patterns,” Ms Walker said.

The report also raised questions on who should pay for necessary environmental improvements.

“Although it is not expensive for most of us, it is clear that some people are struggling to pay their bills, particularly in areas where they are high,” Ms Walker warned.

She went on to highlight how water companies’ bad debt was costing each household an estimated £11 every year.

Ben Bradshaw, secretary of state for the culture, media and sport, commented: “Anna Walker’s report could be the breakthrough we need to finally get rid of the very high charges that the last Tory government landed us with. Charges that I know pensioners and families have found very difficult to bear.”

The proposals were also welcomed by Linda Gilroy MP, a member of the all party parliamentary group on water, who said they could mean a drop in costs of around £170 for those most in need.

With the mercury rocketing this week, the Local Government Association (LGA) warned that each one degree rise in temperature during a heatwave claims an average of 75 extra lives.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health published a heatwave plan which recommends a raft of precautionary measures – including drinking plenty of water.