The UK’s Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) have called for the implementation of universal water metering nationally with an intention to improve water security.
In addition, this should be complemented by social and discretionary tariffs with rewards for low usage and demand management information. This will mean that all users pay for the water they use, depending on the when and for what reason it is used, whilst protecting the poor and the vulnerable.
In its State of the Nation Water 2012 report, part of an annual series, the ICE says the U.K. has a looming and significant challenge to its water security. As a matter of urgency leadership should be established to deliver a strategic, coherent and integrated roadmap to water security.
The importance of water to society should be more effectively emphasized, and conservation actively promoted to reduce water use. Particularly, ambitious changes should be driven to reduce domestic per capita consumption by 30%, and reductions across agriculture and industry sh0uld also be promoted.
“We are a populous nation facing a growing gap between what we can supply and what our water users need,” commented Michael Norton, chair of the ICE Water Panel. “The changes ICE is recommending will require some upheaval to current regulations as well as firm decisions on how to forecast future demand, but once done we would see the effect relatively quickly.”
This report was prepared in the middle of a sustained drought which affected most of the country, with hosepipe bans across many areas. These bans have since been lifted due to heavy rain and flooding in certain areas.
The minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries Richard Benyon described the report as “excellent”, but he didn’t comment on the water metering recommendation which has been rejected by the government in it’s recent white paper, deferring the decision to be made on a local basis by the water companies.