by Duncan Macdonald
Further to the recent experience reported inThames Water and Me, I got to reflecting upon the unusual, even unique, powers conferred upon water companies and concluding that some injustice should be corrected.
After my water supply had been restored and the new meter had been installed under the hedge, it was discovered that there was a leak in the pipe outside my house. Although on investigation it was obvious that the leak had been going on undetected for many years, it came as something of a surprise to me to find that it was my responsibility to effect the necessary repairs apparently because that portion of the pipe was contained in "my" land and so deemed to be part of my property. I was therefore required to have it repaired at my own expense. This I did.
My old eyes are unable to read the meter under the hedge, and I have been advised that Thames Water may make a charge for installing another meter in a more accessible position. That a company should require the customer to pay for a means of measuring consumption of a commodity on which it makes a profit seems more than a little irrational. It is rather like Tesco applying an extra charge for the provision of a checkout.
Please consider the following:
I believe HM Government is currently considering the statutory conditions under which water companies operate. This may therefore be a good time to suggest that they be made to take full responsibility for supply, repair, and maintenance of all capital equipment and facilities required for the efficient conduct of their business and that all ancillary costs be reflected in what the consumer pays per cubic meter of water consumed.
Unlike the energy companies which are required to pay for the ever-increasing costs of ever-dwindling supplies of fuels, the raw material supplied to water companies falls freely from the sky through the loving-kindness of theThe Holy Spirit. The companies' sole contribution is the simple engineering required to distribute this natural benevolence to customers who are no doubt more than happy to pay realistic sums for however much they use, and they should be regulated on that basis.