Millions of billpayers could soon be forced to install a water meter as part of efforts to reduce the risk of water shortages.
The move is forecast to affect six million customers that live in areas classified as water-stressed.
Companies in areas have been determined by the Secretary of State to be classed as seriously water-stressed for metering purposes include South West Water in Bournemouth and the Isles of Scilly, Severn Trent Water and Wessex Water.
According to The Telegraph, homeowners who refuse to install a smart meter will be put on a more expensive flat rate.
An Ofwat spokesperson told ELN: “We have pushed companies to cut leakage, issuing leakage challenges during the past price review, and we will continue to do so.
“Whilst some progress has been made, there is more that can be done. Customers need to have confidence that water companies are cutting down on leakage so that they take steps to reduce their consumption.”
Emma Clancy, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council for Water, said: “Compulsory metering programmes form part of wider efforts to tackle the looming threat of a water shortage crisis and it’s really important customers living in those regions comply with this.
“Many customers will find they can financially benefit from moving to a water meter but for those at risk of being worse off companies should be supporting them with the transition.
“Water companies should be offering free water-saving advice and home audits, as well targeted support for customers in financial hardship through schemes like social tariffs and WaterSure.”
Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said: “Climate change and population growth mean that if we don’t take action now, in around 25 years water demand will exceed availability in many areas.”
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “As a government, we are proposing a legal target on water demand in our forthcoming Environment Bill and working with water companies to reduce leakage, tackle unsustainable abstraction and pollution, and improve their planning for the future.”