The government have recently announced their U-turn on policy regarding water companies being able to impose water meters on their customers. It’s widely believed that water companies will be allowed to force compulsory water meters within 3 years on drought-hit areas of the South East.
On the face of it, this news will feel like a slap in the face to everyone who’s had to endure months of a hosepipe ban whilst watching water companies’ profits soar as they continue to be complacent over fixing their leaking pipes. To be fair (which isn’t easy), the government has said that water metering would not be used as an alternative to fixing leaks and creating better infrastructure on the part of the water companies, but that’s alright if the government’s agencies do their jobs properly and force the companies to do their bit. Frankly we do not believe the government on this. They will allow water metering so that the water companies can continue operating with huge profits.
But we think there’s a bigger issue at stake here. Just for a moment let’s imagine a world where millions of litres of water per day were not being lost through water companies’ incompetence and a world where the same companies earned only modest profits for their shareholders instead of the huge amounts they do now. Put simply, a world where we are all happy about a privatised water industry.
Then we add the realities of the modern world. A growing population. Hotter summers. Dryer winters. Emptier reservoirs. At this point, would a water meter system be a good idea for the people of this country? Yes, we think it would. Water would be saved and the public’s consciousness awakened further.
But why should such a sensible system be imposed on just the people who live in the South East? Wouldn’t it be a good idea to make the whole country pay for their water rather than just those unfortunate enough to live in an area where various geographical factors mean they see less rainfall collected? Wouldn’t it be good to see the whole country take on a responsibility for their water use? Couldn’t areas with plenty of water then pass excesses onto areas of need?
Or should we just accept that living in certain parts of the country is more expensive than others? And that as long as water companies find trading difficult, we must pay them more to keep their profits high? Therefore we must now accept that the population of the South East will soon have to accept the new Water Tax.
As with most environmental issues of our time, the whole thing pivots on one word – money.