The prospect of more households potentially being moved onto water meters in the future as part of compulsory metering programmes has attracted considerable media coverage over the past few days.

CCW has made the following statement in response to questions about the role of metering and the impact on customers.

Emma Clancy, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council for Water (CCW), said:

Compulsory metering programmes form part of wider efforts to tackle the looming threat of a water shortage crisis. Many customers will find they can financially benefit from moving to a water meter but for those at risk of being worse off companies should be supporting them with the transition. Water companies should be offering free water-saving advice and home audits, as well targeted support for customers in financial hardship through schemes like social tariffs and WaterSure. Metering programmes have proven successful in identifying and fixing leaks on customers’ own pipework but water companies should be leading by example in reducing the enormous volumes of water that are lost every day and which dampen households’ own motivation to save water.

Water companies in regions where there is a serious risk of future water shortages can consider making water meters compulsory, as part of a wider package of measures to ensure there is enough water to meets the needs of people and the environment.

However, companies in regions of serious water stress must consult with customers and set out their proposals through the water resource management planning (WRMP) process. Their plans must then receive formal approval from the Government.

In 2021 parts of seven more companies were added to the list of seriously water-stressed areas. These were Cambridge Water, Portsmouth Water, South Staffordshire Water, Severn Trent Water (except its Chester zone), Veolia Water, Wessex Water and South West Water (its Bournemouth and Isles of Scilly areas). The companies already in areas of serious water stress are Affinity Water, Anglian Water (East Anglia area), Essex and Suffolk Water, SES Water, South East Water, Southern Water and Thames Water.

As of yet only five companies have pursued and received approval from the Secretary of State for compulsory metering programmes – Southern Water, South East Water, Thames Water, Affinity Water and SES Water.

If you live in a region where metering is not yet compulsory you can usually trial a water meter for up to two years and switch back to unmetered charges if you’re unhappy.

Use our water meter calculator to see if you might be better off on a meter