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Water bill rises in Cornwall to help fund £850 million investment
12:00pm Saturday 17th August 2013 in Cornwall
South West Water has revealed plans to improve the region's water and sewerage services between 2015 and 2020, at a cost to already hard pressed customers.
Customers and businesses are being asked to comment on its draft WaterFuture proposals, which "could see around £850 million being pumped into the regional economy supporting more than 4,000 jobs", before they are submitted to water industry regulator Ofwat later this year.
Currently it is recommending investment which "may" lead to below inflation bill increases of around 2.5 per cent per year - or an overall £68 increase in the average annual household water and sewerage bill between 2015 and 2020.
- Investment highlights include: Construction of a £50 million-plus new water treatment works for the Plymouth area using a new energy-saving process not used in the UK before.
- Expanding the company's Upstream Thinking programme to restore wetlands and improve raw water quality across the region.
- Producing more green energy through hydro, solar and wind power as well as producing gas from sewage sludge.
- Protecting bathing waters and shellfisheries from pollution and economic loss by improving the sewerage network.
- Building flood defences around key sites so services are maintained to homes and businesses during extreme weather.
The company said: Following consultation with thousands of customers and dozens of organisations earlier this year, South West Water has divided its proposals into eight themed investment areas ranging from 'Ensuring the region has the water it needs' to 'Value for money charging and helping those in need'.
For the first time, the company is also revealing how future bills in 2020 might add up depending on how much is invested in each area, what efficiency savings it can deliver and future inflation rates.
Chief Executive Chris Loughlin said: "We still need to invest in our networks to maintain the achievements of the past such as reduced leakage rates, record tap water quality and transformed bathing waters.
"There are also new challenges to face including population growth, the likelihood of more extreme weather and higher bathing water standards from 2015. Our aim is to invest in the right things at the right time to both improve our services and give the region the reliable 'always there' infrastructure it needs.
"In some areas like water resources, we don't need to invest in expensive new reservoirs. However, in other areas such as our programme to improve raw water quality on the moors, if we don't invest sooner rather than later we could end up facing much higher costs in the future.
"We believe we are close to striking the right balance between the needs of customers, the environment and the economy. Although no one likes to see bills increase, we should be able to keep future increases below the rate of inflation.
"However, before we finalise our plan in December, we need to hear whether customers think we are getting it right. Should we invest more or less in each area? I urge everyone to get involved in WaterFuture to make sure we do the best job for you."
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