Britain's water companies are not doing enough to promote the voluntary limiting of water usage among consumers, a think-tank has claimed.
The Institute of Public Police Research (IPPR), which is set to publish a report on water efficiency tomorrow, is calling on the government to enforce a mandatory requirement for water companies to encourage their customers to save water.
It argues that a water efficiency commitment, based on the energy efficiency commitment under which gas and electricity providers legally have a duty to provide advice on how to cut down energy usage, would help prevent the squandering of what is far from an infinite resource.
"This year's droughts and water shortages have shown that we all need to do our bit to save water," Ian Kearns, deputy director of the IPPR, commented.
"But the water companies should be doing more. A water efficiency commitment that sets minimum targets, enforced by the regulator, Ofwat, would incentivise water companies to help their customers improve the water efficiency of their homes."
Tomorrow's report will suggest that water companies should offer "grants or incentives" to consumers prepared to save water through measures such as low-flow showerheads, low or dual flush toilets and aerated or spray taps.
It will also recommend that the government should provide consumers with a more direct incentive to save water by metering more houses. Around 28 per cent of British homes currently have water metres in place, the IPPR claims.
A water efficiency commitment such as that called for by the IPPR report would be unlikely to be implemented before 2009 because of poor information about water efficiency, leading the think-tank to call for an initial voluntary adoption of such a measure by water companies.