Leakage from the public water supply system in England and Wales has fallen to the lowest level for nearly 10 years, Ofwat announced today. In the year to March 2008 all companies met or bettered their targets and collectively saved enough water to meet the daily needs of 1 million domestic customers.
This achievement follows major investment by the industry in ensuring a long-term balance between supply and demand and demonstrates its commitment to helping cut the amount of water wasted by society; it is part of a pattern which has seen leakage fall by more than a third since the main industry privatisation in 1990.
Leakage management is a vital part of UK water resources management planning, a process recognised worldwide, which also includes improving water efficiency, increasing use of meters and identifying new resources where needed. Companies aim at the most sustainable outcome, which means losses in the distribution system are kept to an economic level.
With more than 325,000km of mains and millions of joints vulnerable to ground conditions and traffic pressure, it will never be possible to reduce leakage to zero. However, it is now at or near the point where the environmental, economic and social cost of water saved by reducing it further is equal to the cost of obtaining the same amount from other sources.
It is also worth remembering that around a quarter of all leakage is from supply pipes that connect mains to customers’ premises. Customers have responsibility for these pipes, though Ofwat has pointed out that water companies arrange repairs or replacements on more generous terms than those required by law.
Ofwat also today recognises improved industry performance in sewage treatment; reducing pollution incidents and properties at risk from sewer flooding; and specific company service and management issues.
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