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Volume 409: debated on Friday 18 July 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research she has commissioned into the environmental impact of water use by consumers since 1997; what estimates have been made of future years; and if she will make a statement. [126181]

The Environment Agency has the duty to secure the proper use of water resources, ensuring that there is a balance between the needs of water consumers and the environment. As part of its research programme, the Environment Agency commissions applied research aimed at furthering the understanding of the complex link between water flows and levels and the ecology of rivers, lakes and wetlands.In 2001 the Agency published national and regional strategies, "Water Resources for the Future", which identified areas where abstraction is believed to be unsustainable.In 2001 the Environment Agency also published '`A scenario approach to demand forecasting" which considered how future water use could be influenced by different socio-economic futures.Each year water companies update their water resources management plans which project, for each area, how water companies will meet the water supply-demand balance taking into account environmental aspects.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the amount of water which leaked from water company pipes in each year since 1997; what measures she is taking to reduce the number of leaks; and if she will make a statement. [126362]

Reported leakage from water companies' pipes since 1997 (in megalitres/day) was as follows:

  • 1996–97: 3,295
  • 1997–98: 2,955
  • 1998–99: 2,618
  • 1999–2000: 2,431
  • 2000–01: 2,365
  • 2001–02: 2,527
Since the Water Summit in 1997, Ofwat has set water companies annual leakage targets. This mechanism has achieved a significant reduction in leakage, both on the distribution network and customers' supply pipes. Most

Data are not available to estimate the percentage change in all waste produced on an annual basis. The Department's annual Municipal Waste. Management Survey for England shows the following increases for municipal and household waste.companies are now at, or close to their Economic Level of Leakage. This is the level at which it would cost more for a water company to further reduce its leakage than to use an alternative source of water. Water company leakage data are published annually by the Director General of Water Services in the "Security of supply, leakage and the efficient use of water" reports, copies of which are available in the Library of the House. Companies' leakage performance for 2002–03 will be published at the end of this month.