Water companies have teamed up to unveil a £96bn investment plan to pay for upgrades and tackle sewage discharages – which will be paid for by customers.
This doubling of investment in the water sector will pay for up to ten new reservoirs, cut leaks and stop millions of litres of sewage overflows into Britain’s seas and rivers.
This is on top of previous £10bn commitments from the sector to tackle storm overflows and upgrade the UK’s creaking and leaking pipelines.
Water UK argues that the “record-breaking investment proposals” will secure the country’s water supply in the long-term.
The industry body expects the measures would cut leakage by more than a quarter by 2030 compared with the start of the decade, putting the UK’s performance among the top five countries in Europe.
However, households will be on the hook to fund the improvements through their water bills.
Consumers will be asked to pay higher bills to pay for the upgrades, initially rising £84 per year by 2025 compared with current prices, and as much as £130 per year by the end of the decade.
Water regulator Ofwat has been asked to approve the plans – with the watchdog pledging to “forensically scrutinise” the sector’s blueprint to ensure the hike in bills over the five-year period is “justified.”
Ofwat chief executive David Black said: “Company business plans are an important first step in the price review process. We will assess how companies are helping customers to afford any bill increase.”
Environment Secretary Therese Coffey revealed she has been “very clear” with Ofwat that “customers should not pay the price for poor performance,” but recognised “major improvements” were needed to secure the industry’s future.
She said: “Funding this transformation requires making decisions for the long term, and water companies will carry out the largest ever environmental investment programme in water company history, investing billions in new reservoirs for new homes, businesses and for our farmers, as well as the £60 billion plan to tackle sewage spills.
“Now is the time for water companies to step up and deliver lasting changes for future generation.”