Page last updated at 12:07 GMT, Wednesday, 7 May 2008 13:07 UK

Water meter plan for 80% of homes

Demand for water is expected to rise as the population increases

Thames Water has said it plans to install water meters in 80% of properties within the next 12 years in an effort to tackle water shortages.

The company said increasing demand due to rising populations in the London, Swindon and Oxfordshire areas will make water metering a necessity.

Unveiling plans for the 25 years from 2010, it added cutting leaks will be its priority.

Thames Water's plan said London may need new water resources.

The company's statutory draft Water Resources Management Plan includes a 10-year programme of targeted household metering to ensure 50% of homes have their own meter by 2015, rising to 80% by 2020.

'Water stressed'

Currently the water use in the area is 12 litres above the national average of 150 litres per person per day, which Thames hopes to cut to 130 litres by 2030.

London, Swindon and Oxfordshire, were "seriously water stressed", it added.

The company said the population of the area is expected to rise from 8.5m to 9.7m by 2035 which will lead to an increased demand.

With 24,800 new households settle in London each year the area may need new water resources, Thames Water warned.

The company said its highest priority was to cut leaks from the water network, particularly in London where it would continue to replace the outdated and leaky Victorian mains pipes.

Century-old water pipes across London also sprout leaks and wastage accounts for 30% of demand, it said.

The company said its current plans to replace the pipes will cut leakage levels by a third by 2010, with a further 24% cut by 2020.

Thames Water chief executive David Owens said the company "cannot be complacent" about water supplies.

A public consultation is underway on plans to build a reservoir in Oxfordshire which would be "essential" to meet increasing demands, it said.

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