The Environment Agency has announced that it is to allow companies in areas with water supply problems to introduce compulsory metering to entire regions.

Metering saves water at a rate of about 10 per cent per household, although currently only 30 per cent of people in England and Wales have meters.

Environment Minister Phil Woolas said: ‘The terrible flooding we have seen recently came after more than two years of severe drought in some parts of the country. As the impacts of climate change on our weather and rainfall patterns increase, we have to face up to the fact that what we might now consider to be extremes could become more commonplace. We need a flexible range of tools at our disposal if we are to manage supplies sustainably in the future.’

However, Mr Woolas goes on to add that this ‘in no way absolves companies from their responsibility to deliver on leakage targets.’