Water Bills Set To Fall Over Next Five Years
Water bills are on course to fall 5% on average in real terms over the next five years - if the industry regulator gets its way.
Ofwat confirmed its draft determination for household water and sewerage bills for the 2015-2020 period while announcing its plans would also see the rollout of a £43bn investment programme.
The price controls - for all 18 water companies in England and Wales - are set by the regulator because of the industry's regional monopoly structure.
A final ruling will be made in December but the regulator said its draft decision would result in a series of benefits for customers.
They included an average 40% reduction in the time lost to supply interruptions, fewer instances of sewer flooding and cleaner water at more than 50 beaches.
Ofwat said a saving of at least 340 million litres a day through tackling leakage and promoting water efficiency would be enough to serve each home in Birmingham, Liverpool and Leeds put together.
Most companies put forward lower bills in business plans submitted in June, with the exception of Thames Water and Dee Valley Water.
Bristol Water, Thames Water and United Utilities have been given further time to review their plans due to a "very material gap" between their expenditure projections and Ofwat's view.
Thames, the country's biggest water firm, has argued it needs more money so it can modernise London's Victorian-era pipe network which is susceptible to overflow and blockages from so-called 'fatbergs' - concentrations of waste from restaurant and home sinks.
It is planning a 15-mile 'super sewer', which would halt the release of raw material into the river at times of high rainfall and sewer volumes.
The regulator has challenged the estimated cost of £4.2bn.
Ofwat chief executive Cathryn Ross said of the wider announcement today: "This is good news for customers - with bills held down and better service.
"Our challenge to companies has resulted in the sector's biggest ever customer conversation.
"Delivering for customers rather than ticking regulatory boxes will drive what companies do over the next five years. Some will find this tough, but companies which really stretch themselves will reap the benefits of increased customer trust and confidence."