Thousands of students are returning to Southampton to find that all homes in the city are being installed with mandatory water meters.
Southern Water, the supplier for over a million households in Hampshire and surrounding counties, are in the process of a huge metering overhaul in an effort to reduce the South of England’s water usage.
The £83.5m scheme commenced in 2010 though University of Southampton students will only now start to notice the difference as their homes have water meters installed in the coming weeks.
The change means water bills are charged according to the amount used per quarter, rather than the method used until now where the cost was based on the rateable value of the property.
Unfortunately for students, bills are almost certain to increase under a water meter because the new system hits cheaper houses with many occupants hardest.
But Southern Water are introducing alternative tariffs which must be opted into which could lessen the financial pain. For details of these tariffs which could save over £60 a year, click here.
The South of England is especially dry and households use so much water the government have labelled it an Area of Serious Water Stress with DEFRA warning that if the rate of usage continued there would be an increasingly serious risk of droughts.
Consequently Southern Water, with widespread support, decided to enforce water meters upon households in a bid to encourage individuals to save water.
Research indicates that on average people use 123 litres of water per day when on a meter, compared to an average of 144 litres when off one.
Signs erected around Portswood and Highfield inform residents of the date of installation, most arriving in the next few weeks.
The water will be disconnected for 10 to 15 minutes during the free installation.
30% of Southern Water customers are expected to see their bill go up by more than £60, with an equal percentage finding their bill decrease by a similar amount.
Many student households will find themselves the wrong side of the dividing line and forking out more money under the new scheme unless they make drastic changes to reduce their water usage, or at least apply for an alternative tariff.
Students staying in Halls of Residence will not be financially affected as their utilities are all at a fixed price.