Welcome National Audit Office verdict spells out potential for improving water resources

Posted: Friday 19th January 2007

The Consumer Council for Water has welcomed the National Audit Office (NAO) findings on meeting the challenges of future water supply.

The NAO report, Meeting the Demand for Water, recommends that Ofwat should push harder for improved data on leakage and consumption from water companies, as well as taking a lead in ensuring reliable evidence for the effectiveness of water efficiency projects. Sir John Bourn, Auditor General of the NAO, said that understanding the needs of consumers should be at the heart of the regulatory regime for water.

Dame Yve Buckland, Chair of the Consumer Council for Water, said: “Consumer views and understanding of consumer behaviour must be at the centre of any future regulatory decision-making on water policy. We are happy to see the National Audit Office recognise this, echoing many of the statements we have made on water resources over the last 12 months.

“Emerging results from our Using Water Wisely research, will help in providing the necessary evidence, but more work is needed on top of that to work out the costs and impacts of different water efficiency initiatives.”

Dame Yve added: “It is crucial, if customers are to be asked meet extra costs at the next price review in 2009, that they pay only for the approaches that work best for different groups of consumers in differing supply scenarios. Otherwise, water companies may not deliver the options that are best value for money.

“Meanwhile, the message to consumers is to minimise waste and use water wisely: but the industry must also demonstrate what it is doing to take care of water resources, and how it can help consumers to be more water efficient. Customers are saying ‘show me how’ – the will is there, but they need help with the means.”

Topline findings of the Consumer Council for Water’s Using Water Wisely research show that 67% of consumers were willing to trail water-efficient devices. 54% were willing to give spray taps a try to save water, with 56% willing to try save-a-flush bags and other toilet cistern water savers. But 55% of consumers would be more likely to conserve water if water-saving appliances were cheaper.

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