ALMOST half of water companies, including Yorkshire Water, will not be required to reduce their leakages before 2015 despite the country’s worst drought in 25 years, regulators say.
Ofwat said eight out of 21 water companies had been set zero reduction of leaks targets to 2014/15, despite hosepipe bans being declared in central and southern England.
The firms include Yorkshire Water, which failed to meet its 2010/11 targets and as a result was required to spend an additional £33m on leak repairs, Ofwat said.
The news comes after days of heavy rain which saw stocks of the Pennine reservoirs around Huddersfield rise to almost 98% of capacity.
But there are drought restrictions in force in parts of the Yorkshire Water region, especially in the east.
Shadow water minister Gavin Shuker said the “vested interests” of water companies meant leaks were not being repaired.
He said: “It costs more to repair leaks than the immediate value of the water itself, so while it makes sense for a water company to ignore leaks, it certainly doesn’t stack up in the long term for us, the consumers, or for our environment.”
The regulator has revealed water companies across England and Wales leaked more than 3.3 billion litres a day in 2010/11.
Ofwat said it was urging firms to “step up to the plate” to reduce their leakages.
However customers may face higher prices to cover the cost of fixing leaks, it added.
An Ofwat spokesman said: “The current drought shows the importance of tackling leakage. Companies need to listen to – and respond – to their customers.”