原文：Water Metering Essential in Avoiding Future Water Shortages Says Environment Agency
Water metering must form the basis of charging for water in England to help avoid future water shortages due to population growth and the effects of climate change, the Environment Agency said today.
Commenting on the publication of Anna Walker’s independent review of water charging and metering, the government’s environmental watchdog has agreed that the majority of consumers and businesses in England should pay for water based on the volume used.
Widespread water metering implemented by water companies, including safeguards to protect vulnerable groups, would provide a fairer charging system and is vital to help reduce water consumption and avert future severe shortages.
The review also recognises the important role that structured education programmes and water saving campaigns can play to encourage people to change their water use behaviours across England and Wales.
Research has shown that households with a water meter use between 10 and 15 per cent less water than those without. The UK is one of the few developed countries that have low levels of metering; currently only one third of households in England and Wales are metered.
Water resources are already under pressure in many parts of England, with some 25 million people living in areas where there is less water available water per person than Spain or Morocco. The average Briton currently uses 148 litres – some 260 pints – every day, and the Government has an aim to reduce this to 130 litres by 2030 in England.
Although climate change will lead to more frequent heavy downpours and increase the risk of flooding, the Environment Agency predicts that overall it will reduce the amount of water available in rivers in England and Wales by ten to 15 per cent by 2050, and up to as much as 80 per cent during summer months.
A potential 20 million increase in the population of England and Wales will put even greater pressure on the countries’ finite water supplies. By 2020, demand for water could rise by five per cent or 800 million litres every day – enough to fill every bath in Wales, the West Midlands and North East of England (4.6 million baths).
The Environment Agency welcomes other recommendations in the Walker Review, many of which echo calls made by the organisation in its Water Resources Strategy, published earlier this year. The Environment Agency would like to see:
• Stronger incentives to reward water companies for reducing the amount of water provided;
• A review of water industry regulation to allow better sharing of water across company boundaries;
• An enhanced and extended water efficiency labelling system for all appliances that use water;
• Tighter water efficiency standards in planning conditions for new buildings in areas where water resources are under most pressure.
The Environment Agency’s Head of Water, Ian Barker, said: “Water is a precious resource which we all need to use more efficiently.
Parts of England already have less available water per person than Spain or Morocco. Climate change, increases in population, and our growing demand for water will mean that there will be even less water in future.
We believe that widespread metering and progressive tariffs represents the fairest and most sustainable charging approach for the future. We acknowledge that the transition requires careful management, particularly with regard to affordability, but metering will help customers reduce their consumption.
The Environment Agency supports the recommendations of the Walker Review and we want to see them taken forward as quickly as possible.”