WATER bills for Huddersfield people are to go up - but not as much as feared.

The water watchdog Ofwat today published draft price limits for Yorkshire Water for the five years from April 1 next year.

The review means an average increase in bills of £36 to £279 over the next five years, before inflation.

This is less than Yorkshire Water's proposal for an increase of £50 over the period.

But £10 of the average increase would be required in the first year, to reflect the impact of costs on the company.

Water bills across England and Wales should rise by an average 13% over the next five years - less than half what the industry wanted, Ofwat said today.


believes its proposals strike a fair balance. Customers should pay no more than is necessary for the company to continue to deliver safe, reliable and efficient services and for further investment to improve the quality of drinking water, to clean up rivers and estuaries and to help deal with the problems of sewer flooding.

The price increase will enable Yorkshire Water to invest more than £1.3bn to carry out improvements.

These include:

* Renovation of nearly 2,000 kilometres (1,250 miles) of mains.

* Schemes at 22 water treatment works to deal with worsening raw water quality.

* Major improvements at Colne Bridge sewage treatment works, to reduce the level of ammonia in the sewage effluent discharged into the River Colne.

* Big improvements at Mitchell Laithes sewage treatment works, near Mirfield, to cut the amount of ammonia in the sewage effluent put in the River Calder.

Philip Fletcher, Ofwat's director general of water services, said: "These proposals are fair to customers in Yorkshire and the company.

"We have worked hard to ensure the price limits are no higher than they need to be.

"The longer-term picture is that Yorkshire Water's customers would, by 2009, be paying 4% more on average, before inflation, than in 1999."