Eastbourne’s fresh water provider is changing the way some customers pay for the water they drink and use.
South East Water is currently installing water meters for most domestic customers who do not already have one.
It means they will be billed for only the water they use, plus a standing charge.
The programme will involve putting in an about 12,500 water meters across the town and surrounding areas.
In the majority of cases, South East Water will connect the meter to the external stop tap which is normally found in the footpath at the boundary of the property.
Customers will not need to be at home for this and any disruption caused will be minimal.
In a very small number of cases, such as a shared water supply, the meter may need to be installed inside the property, often under the kitchen sink.
Previously, water charges were based on the value of a house and the number of bedrooms.
However, since 1989, all new homes have water meters and commercial properties are also metered.
Under South East Water’s Customer Metering Programme – which started in 2011 – all domestic properties in its region will be surveyed and, where possible, a meter will be fitted.
The company has been working on a street-by-street basis and has now reached Eastbourne.
South East Water’s Metering Manager Oluseyi Onifade said, “One of the advantages of having a water meter is customers have more control over how much they pay for their water.
“The less water used, the lower the bill. Most customers find their bills go down as a result of having a meter and also by using some simple water-saving devices.
“We believe metered charges are a fairer way for customers to pay for the water they use.”
The decision to start the compulsory metering programme was taken because the Environment Agency classed the South East of England as ‘water stressed’.
Its findings were based on anticipated population growth and the effects of climate change which indicated less rainfall for the region.
As a result, South East Water needed to find ways to make the most of its limited resources and research showed customers with a water meter are more aware of how much water is being used – or wasted – and subsequently use 15 per cent less than those not on metered charges.
Oluseyi said, “Just small changes to how we all use water can make a big impact – on bills and the environment.
“The less demand on supplies, means the less we have to take from rivers and underground sources to meet that demand.
“When we install water meters we give our customers a welcome brochure. This has tips on how to use less water and also has details about some useful gadgets we can send to customers.
“These include shower timers and toilet flush savers. A four minute shower is all we need to keep clean and a toilet flush saver uses two litres less water than a conventional cistern.
“It’s all about thinking about how we use our precious resource and what we can all do to reduce our impact on our environment.”
Plenty of information about the installations including financial support schemes available can be found at www.southeastwater.co.uk/meters or call the metering helpline on 0333 000 0003.