Hike in water bills in pipeline

CONSUMERS in East Anglia face a big rise in bills for water and sewage services by the year 2010.Anglian Water has told Ofwat, the water industry's regulator, that average bills will have to rise by 36.

By David Green

CONSUMERS in East Anglia face a big rise in bills for water and sewage services by the year 2010.

Anglian Water has told Ofwat, the water industry's regulator, that average bills will have to rise by 36.8% between 2005 and 2010 to allow the company to meet its environmental obligations.

Average bills would rise by £102 – from £277 to £379 over the period. Of this £145 would be for water and £234 for sewage services.


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This would mean that in seven years time the average household would pay just over £1 a day for water and sewage services.

The figures supplied by Anglian Water comprise the company's opening bid in negotiations with Ofwat.

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Environment and conservation agencies are urging the regulator to force the companies to fully tackle pollution, habitat damage and water leakage.

In the first two five-year periods after water privatisation bills soared as the industry was forced to clean up discharges into rivers and the sea and to clamp down on water pipeline leakages and pesticide contamination of drinking water.

Anglian Water spent £4 billion , paving the way for the current high quality of river and coastal waters and drinking water

For the third five-year period, which expires in 2004, Ofwat demanded that bills be reduced by 13-14% and the water companies failed to get the go-ahead for much of the proposed investment in their water and sewage systems.

Some of them, including Anglian, took out large loans in order to complete work considered essential.

Anglian Water said yesterday that a great deal of maintenance was now outstanding and bills would have to rise by about 8% a year over the period 2005 - 2010.

The company has drawn up a £2.7 billion capital investment programme, £1.1 billion of which would be spent on maintenance.

About £206 million would be devoted to reducing the incidence of sewage overflows and odours from sewage works.

"Ofwat needs to have a water industry that can sustain itself. At the moment the payment of one third of all customers bills goes towards reducing our debts," said Andrew Mackintosh, the company's head of communications.

Essex and Suffolk Water is bidding for an increase in average water charges of £40 between 2005 and 2010, from £113 to £153. Anglian Water's sewage charges would be added to this.

Nationally, the regional water companies are bidding to increase prices by an average of £31.2%. The highest increase, 71.2% has been proposed by United Utilities.

WaterVoice , which represents consumer interests, has branded the proposed price increases as "unacceptable".

But the Environment Agency said one in six serious pollution incidents was caused by the water industry because too little was spent on maintaining infrastructure.

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