Yorkshire Water can keep on leaking

Yorkshire Water has been told it does not need to meet stringent leakage targets despite high levels of leakage suffered last year.

Despite failing to meet the 2010/11 targets set by Ofwat, the Bradford-based firm – which has spent £39m trying to rectify its problem – is one of eight water companies which is not required to reduce its leakages before 2015.

Ofwat revealed that water companies across England and Wales leaked more than 3.3bn litres a day in 2010/11, as this year the country deals with its worst drought in 25 years.

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An Ofwat spokesperson said: “Replacing all the pipes in England and Wales would cost an estimated £100bn – and still leakage levels would only be halved. We need to get the balance right, so we can ensure customers continue to get a fair deal.”

But Shadow Water Minister Gavin Shuker criticised the “vested interests” of water companies which 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.

“Yet the Government appears to have dropped its water Bill from the forthcoming Queen’s speech. What will it take to ensure Ministers start holding these offshore-owned water companies to account?”

A spokesman for Yorkshire Water, Matt Thompson, said: “We were very, very disappointed to have missed our target leakage last year, and it is a real focus for us as a business to improve upon this issue.

“We have seen success so far and we are confident we’ll beat the targets set for 2011/12.

“But we won’t stop there, having committed to spend more than £300m over the next 12 months improving our service not just on pipes but treatment works as a whole.”