Friday, 11 June 2010

Compulsory Water Metering

A letter was published in our local paper, the West Briton, this week, expressing horror at the thought of compulsory water metering. This was my reply!

"I was really interested to read the letter from Miss Trewin regarding water metering, particularly the paragraph in which she states that ‘Any kind of compulsory action undermines democracy and is an invasion of the peoples’ democratic rights’. After all, the basis of democracy is the law and its creation and enforcement!

To follow that line of thought through to its logical conclusion, I guess Miss Trewin resents the fact that electricity and gas supplies also have to be metered! Perhaps we should instead be subjected to an inflated standing electricity or gas charge based on house size and location as is the case with unmetered water! The infrastructure associated with water supply is significant, and expensive to maintain (as with electricity and gas), and I cannot think of a reason to treat water as a special case!

More seriously, I am a supporter of Green policies and principles, specifically the principle of conserving our resources where possible. Having used an unmetered supply of water for many years, I came to realise that a more fair and honest approach would be to have a meter installed, so that I paid for what I used. The value from my point of view would be that I would be able to monitor my own water use, and avoid wasting this precious resource. As it turned out, the meter has had the effect of reducing my water bill by more than 50%.

Miss Trewin naively believes that ‘it is logical people will only use the amount of water needed...’ – I have to say that her faith in the human race’s ability to behave in a logical way is different from mine! The fact is that if volume of water used is reflected in the water bill, people will be more careful with its use, as they are with electricity. Additionally, it would enable anyone to judge whether they are being charged fairly or not.

We in Cornwall have probably the highest water charges in the country, but that is mainly due to the burden of catering for the tourists who visit, whether through beach cleaning or sewage treatment. Whether that is fair or not is a question for politicians, and I don’t think it is at the top of their current ‘to-do’ list!

In this economically challenged world, I take the view that we should all pay a fair rate for all our services, and compulsory water metering would allow us to do that. Miss Trewin wonders who would benefit – I would suggest that in the end, the whole population would.

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