Most UK water companies not required to cut leaks before 2015 despite drought.
More than half of water companies will not be required to reduce leakages before 2015, despite the worst drought in 25 years.
More than half of water companies will not be required to reduce their leakages by a single drop before 2015, despite the worst drought in 25 years. Data obtained by the Guardian from the regulator Ofwat also shows the entire water industry will cut leaks by only 1.5% in that time.
Every day, 3.4bn litres of water leaks from the system, almost a quarter of the entire supply. After two years of low rainfall, drought has been declared across southern and central England, with no end in sight for the hosepipe ban imposed in many places. The wettest April on record has revived rivers, but groundwater reserves remain low as the water runs off hardened ground.
Since the privatisation of the water industry in 1989, Ofwat has set leakage reduction targets for the 21 water companies, which operate local monopolies across England and Wales. Analysis of the data, supplied to Ofwat by the companies themselves, revealed:
• Eleven companies have targets of zero reduction of leaks by 2015. They include Yorkshire Water, which failed to meet its 2010-11 targets and as a result was required to spend an additional £33m on leak repairs.
• Leaks have been reduced across England and Wales by only 5% over the past 13 years.
• The worst-performing company, Southern Water, which supplies Sussex, Kent, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, missed its latest leak target by 16% and had to pay £5m back to customers, but will be allowed to increase its leakage by 6% by 2015.
• The 25-year managementplans of the water companies envisage reducing leakage by only 10% in that time.