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Water Bills 2009/2010

The average household water and sewerage bill across England and Wales is set to rise by 1.1 per cent above inflation in 2009/10.

In 2004, Ofwat set limits on the prices water and sewerage companies could charge customers between 2005 – 10. The rises for this year will come into effect on 1 April 2009 and apply until 31 March 2010. Ofwat will finalise the new limits on prices for the period 2010 – 2015 in November 2009.

Regina Finn, Ofwat Chief Executive Officer said:

“We needed to make some tough decisions back in 2004 when we set prices. Further investment was vital, but we needed to strike a balance with keeping bills down. Our work has kept customers’ bills around £100 lower than they would otherwise have been.

“No one wants to see bills increasing, particularly in tough economic times. Yet over the last 20 years we have made sure that this essential investment has delivered very real benefits for us all.

“Our polluted rivers and beaches meant we were viewed as the dirty man of Europe. Now we have more than 120 Blue Flag beaches. The Mersey was known as the most polluted river in Western Europe but now is home to breeding salmon. Leakage has fallen by over a third since 1995, while the quality of our drinking water is now up there with the best in the world.”

The average increase in household bills in 2009/10 is 1.1 per cent plus inflation at 3 per cent. This means the average household water and sewerage bill across England and Wales will rise by approximately 4.1% or £13 to reach £342 in 2009/10.

The impact of the new charges will vary for individual household customers depending on the company that supplies them and whether or not they have a water meter.

During the 2005-10 period water and sewerage companies are projected to invest around £20 billion in maintaining and improving water and sewerage services. This is part of an estimated £80 billion worth of investment by water and sewerage companies between 1989 and 2010. Water and sewerage companies were privatised in 1989.

Regina Finn said:

“We have made significant steps forward over the last 20 years. Yet the challenges of the future are different to those of the past.

“We are due to finalise prices for the 2010-15 period at the end of this year and we will make sure that consumers get a fair deal.”

Over the last 20 years, key achievements within the water and sewerage sector include:

* Between 2005 – 2010 water and sewerage companies in England and Wales are in the process of laying, renewing or relining approximately 20,000km of water mains – more than enough pipes to stretch from London to Auckland. 2

* The proportion of properties at highest risk of sewer flooding has reduced by more than 75% in the last 10 years.3

* Leakage is down by 35% since its peak in the mid-1990s.

* The number of beaches in England and Wales recommended for excellent water quality by the Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) Good Beach Guide has increased by almost 90% between 1998 – 2008. 380 beaches were recommended by the MCS in 2008.

* In 1990, only around 78% of England and Wales’s bathing waters met the minimum standards. In 2008 this figure had risen to 97%.

* In 2007, 72% of English rivers were rated either good or excellent compared with 55% in 1990; 87% in Wales compared with 79% in 1990. Successes include the River Mersey, where breeding salmon have returned after a more than 80 year absence to what was once known as Western Europe’s most polluted river.

* In 2007, overall compliance with the drinking water standards in England and Wales continued to be very high at 99.96%.

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