SES Water is aiming to increase the number of homes with water meters in its region from 52% to 90% as part of plans to secure future water supplies.
The water company has launched a public consultation on in its draft Water Resources Management Plan. Based in Redhill, SES Water supplies more than 680,000 people in parts of Surrey, West Sussex, Kent and south London – an area that is in serious water stress.
The plan looks 60 years ahead and works out how much water will be needed to supply the area’s growing population while also being ready for climate change and making sure the local environment is protected.
The proposals focus on reducing the demand for water by tackling leaks and helping customers cut how much they use through the completion of its large-scale metering programme.
On metering, the utility has planned that 80% of properties will be charged on a metered basis by 2025, reaching 90% by 2030. For the first five years, this will require around 56,000 meters to be installed, double the number expected under baseline. The additional meters will need to be installed on a compulsory basis.
The option on compulsory metering of all unmeasured households is based on achieving this within 5 years (to a maximum level of 90%). SES Water is permitted to carry out compulsory metering under legislation which enable water companies to meter ‘when the premises to be metered are located in an area which has been determined by the Secretary of State to be an area of serious water stress and are included in a metering programme specified in the relevant company’s water resources management plan’. The company’s entire supply area is within the area designated as being water stressed by the Environment Agency.
SES Water has also put forward a target that at least 10% of customers will have a smart meter by 2025. The company has been carrying out a smart metering trial for household properties this financial year (2017/18) in order to identify the optimum technology in terms of cost, reliability, and quality of data. This includes identifying a software platform which will engage consumers in identifying where they can make savings on an ongoing basis.
Beyond 2025, it expects to fit smart meters as standard, providing the cost-benefit analysis shows it is effective to do so and the firm has the support of customers.
Tom Kelly, Wholesale Services Director at SES Water, said:
“Our plan focusses heavily on reducing the demand for water by further reducing wastage from our own network and helping our customers use less in their homes and workplaces. We currently have one of the highest water consumption rates in England – some 150 litres per person per day – so we know there is more we can do help people reduce how much they use.
“Installing meters is an effective way to encourage people to use water more efficiently as they only pay for what they use. Other companies in the south east who have carried out large-scale metering programmes have seen water use fall by up to 16% which means supplies can go further. We think that smart meters have potential to help customers reduce their usage even more, which is why we are going to pilot them over the next five years.
“This is really important to make sure our service is resilient and ready for an increased local population and the potential for less water being available due to climate change in the future. Our area is already classified by the government as being in serious water stress, so we need advance our efforts to reduce wastage and make the most of the water that is available.”
In the longer term the company will look to share more water with its neighbouring companies as part of efforts to develop a regional grid, so water can be moved around the region more effectively.
The Company is a member of the Water Resources in the South East Group (WRSE Group) which includes representatives from the Environment Agency, Ofwat, Defra, the Consumer Council for Water and the six water companies in the South East of England (Affinity Water, Portsmouth Water, Southern Water, South East Water, SESW and Thames Water). The aim of the group is to consider the opportunities and options for sharing resources on a regional basis.
SES Water has already invested in the connectivity of its network in order to move water around more easily and share resources with other companies. This has included transfers to Scottish and Southern Energy and Southern Water.
In the next two years, a new pipeline will be constructed to transfer water from Outwood to Whitely Hill – which will provide a bulk supply to South East Water.
The current total projected cost of the plan over the 60 year period is £93 million. The investment will be delivered through five-year Asset Management Plans – the company is currently working on its AMP7 business plan for the upcoming Price Review in 2019 which covers the period 2020-25.