Water meters should be made compulsory and bills should rise to help households cut their use and tackle looming supply shortages, the new chair of the Environment Agency (EA) has said.
Alan Lovell, who took up the role last month, said households use “too much water” and metering was necessary to encourage them to cut use by around a quarter.
“I think that metering should be mandatory where it can be,” he told a parliamentary committee on water industry regulation. “It’s not quite as simple as it sounds because in some apartment blocks it’s difficult to do it. But where it can be, I think it should be.”
The EA has warned that parts of England could run dry within 25 years because of a combination of climate change and population growth.
Currently, only water companies in areas that are classed as being under serious water stress can roll out compulsory metering in their area, and they must show there is customer support, it is cost-effective to do so, and they have considered other options.
In those areas, households cannot refuse to have a meter installed, although switching from a flat rate can increase bills in larger households, particularly if they have more people than bedrooms.