28 Jan 2009

Contact me re Wessex Water issues in Stroud District

As some will know I was appointed to the Wessex Water panel for SDC - see here details of my first meeting - well firstly below is a press release I sent out last week and haven't managed to put on this blog yet then below are the questions I asked at Wessex last time.

Photo: top of Ash Lane

Here is the press release:


Act now on payment difficulties

Cllr Philip Booth, who was recently appointed as Stroud District Council's representative on the Customer Liaison Panel for Wessex Water, is asking members of the public and businesses if there are any issues they would like him to raise at the panel’s next meeting on 26th February. He is also urging customers with payment difficulties to contact the company immediately.

Philip Booth, who has a particular interest in water issues and promoting more sustainable use of water, has helped found both the Safe Water Campaign for Gloucestershire and a local brook action group. He said: "Wessex Water are leaders in their field. Last year they celebrated being the first water company to gain the hugely coveted and prestigious Queen's Awards for Enterprise for Sustainable Development (see more here). Nevertheless there are always going to be issues to raise and Wessex seem to be genuinely striving for improvements. If there are issues I am happy to take them to the next Customer Liaison Panel. Do please contact me here or on 755451."

Payment difficulties?

Philip Booth who is District councillor for Randwick, Ruscombe and Whiteshill near Stroud said: "Wessex Water has a good approach in the way they manage customers who are genuinely struggling to afford to pay their water bills. There is no question that with the Credit Crunch more people are and will have difficulties. The earlier people contact Wessex Water the easier it is to set up the best tariff and payment option."

Wessex Water covers 10,000 square kilometres of south west England including Dorset, Somerset, Bristol and Bath, most of Wiltshire and parts of Gloucestershire and Hampshire. They serve 1.3 million drinking water consumers and provide sewage services for 2.6 million.

Questions to the panel last time

Already I have several issues for next meeting in February - the answers given at the last meeting were comprehensive - below the answers here are just notes...

1. Ofwat would like to see all newly built homes having their own water meter. However I have read about concerns in the Thames Water area that in for example newly developed apartment blocks and redeveloped flats in Victorian homes, the developer can agree with the water company to fit only one meter. There are clearly incentives for the landlord and developer to have a single meter as landlords can charge an admin fee and installation is cheaper. I understand in some cases this has led to very unfair bills for users in the apartment blocks and clearly also does little to help customers conserve water. Please can you assure me that Wessex Water will be insisting on water meters for every home?

A. The Water Act requires meters.

2. I would like clarification re your policies re pumping water from boreholes to top up rivers. I understand from some organisations that this approach is not the most sustainable?

A. Stream support is water from aquifers used to provide additional flow to watercourses at times of low flow. It is only installed when agreed with Natural England that ecology is considered.

3. The Pitt Review recommends more SUDs. I understand in many countries the approach is mandatory, but while there is alot of support to move towards more SUDs this doesn't seem to be happening with enough urgency. What are the issues that prevent Wessx Water from insisting on more SUDs?

A. WW supports SUDs. The more storm water out of sewers the better but this is difficult as many are combined flow. Ownership following installation also needs considering.

Bathing Water standards

Defra has announced England 's bathing water quality standards for May to September 2008. The results show that of the 414 bathing waters in England, 398 met the mandatory standards.

In the South West 10 beaches failed the mandatory water quality standard, but none of these were in the Wessex Water area. In our region 100% of bathing waters met the mandatory quality standard for the fifth consecutive year. There was an above average 76.6% compliance rate with the more stringent guideline standard.

Some bathing waters failed to meet the tougher standards during the summer months, however WW are confident that their sewerage infrastructure performed well during times of intense rainfall. Other factors, such as agricultural run off, may have affected the quality of bathing waters in the region following the heavy rainfall experienced during the summer of 2007.

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