Water companies made an initial assessment of costs when they published their draft business plans in April 2009. Costs will vary across the country, as the NEP for each water company will be different, depending on local conditions. Ofwat's Draft Determinations showed that on average water bills would decrease by £14 over the five-year period. Within this, they estimated that, on average, £17 would be spent on environmental improvements.
This figure is still an estimate at this stage and is likely to change. We will not know the final figure until Ofwat have set final price limits for each company in November 2009. We recognise, especially in the current economic climate, that some water customers find their bills very hard to pay. We do ensure that every environmental improvement is fully justified, addresses a known problem and is based on scientific evidence.
We encourage companies to adopt the most cost-effective solution, which ensures protection of the environment and the best value for the customer. Where it is appropriate, we ask water companies to investigate the best solution to a particular problem, prior to taking action, which ensures that they deliver the most cost effective solution and minimises costs to customers.
We also work with government and water companies on deciding when these improvements have to take place so that they are spread across the five-year period, ensuring, where legislation allows, that the costs are spread over the five year period.