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The struggle for residential water metering in England and Wales

David Zetland
Leiden University College, The Hague, The Netherlands; d.j.zetland@luc.leidenuniv.nl

ABSTRACT: The transformation of water services that began with the privatisation of water companies in 1989 extended to households with the implementation of water metering. Meters 'privatised' water and the cost of provision by allocating to individual households costs that had previously been shared within the community. This (ongoing) conversion of common pool to private good has mostly improved economic, environmental and social impacts, but the potential burden of metering on poorer households has slowed the transition. Stronger anti-poverty programmes would be better at addressing this poverty barrier than existing coping mechanisms reliant on subsidies from other water consumers.

KEYWORDS: Water meters, collective goods, privatisation, regulation, England, Wales