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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 November 2006, 13:04 GMT
Water meter plan 'accelerating'
Hosepipe bans remain in place across the South East
Plans to speed up water metering in drought-hit areas are expected to be announced by the government on Monday.

Environment Minister Ian Pearson will outline the proposals that would affect areas of water shortage.

Folkestone and Dover Water had approval this year to bring in compulsory meters. Other firms were expected to follow suit after two dry winters.

It comes days after warnings from Ofwat that suppliers should be prepared for a third year of dry winter weather.

Leakage targets

The water watchdog said companies had managed to meet demand during this year's drought because of their own actions and customers who heeded water saving messages.

But it said customers were unhappy about restrictions placed on water use, particularly where companies failed to meet leakage targets.

It warned that enforcement action would be taken against companies that failed to meet targets, and said a review was under way on how to manage leakage, with results due next spring.

Developers and water companies in drought-hit areas would be encouraged to install "water efficiency measures" in new developments, Ofwat said.

Sutton and East Surrey Water lifted its drought order on Wednesday, but said it would continue to operate a full hosepipe ban.

But the company warned that well-above average rainfall was needed to bring water resources back to normal.

Folkestone and Dover Water lifted its ban on hosepipes and sprinklers at the beginning of October.

But the bans continue for customers of Southern Water, Thames Water, South East Water, Mid Kent Water and Three Valleys Water.

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