£850m plans unveiled for water supply
South West Water has announced £850 million plans to improve the region's water and sewerage service.
And the company believes it will be able to keep increases in bills to below the rate of inflation.
The key projects include:
Construction of a £50 million-plus water treatment works in Plymouth using a new energy-saving process not used in the UK before;
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Expanding the Upstream Thinking programme to restore wetlands and improve raw water quality across the region;
Producing more green energy through hydro, solar and wind power as well as producing gas from sewage sludge;
Protecting bathing waters and shellfisheries from pollution and economic loss by improving the sewerage network;
Building flood defences around key sites so services are maintained during extreme weather.
The company has unveiled its draft WaterFuture proposals and is seeking customer feedback before they are submitted to the water industry regulator Ofwat later this year.
South West Water had divided the proposals into eight themed investments, from ensuring the region has the water it needs to value for money charging, and it has revealed how future bills may add up as a result.
Currently it is recommending below-inflation bill increases of around 2.5 per cent a year, an average increase of £68 between 2015 and 2020, when the work is due to take place.
Chief executive Chris Loughlin said: "We still need to invest in our networks to maintain the achievements of the past such as reduced leakage rates, record tap water quality and transformed bathing waters.
"There are also new challenges to face including population growth, the likelihood of more extreme weather and higher bathing water standards from 2015.
"In some areas like water resources, we don't need to invest in expensive new reservoirs. However, in other areas such as our programme to improve raw water quality on the moors, if we don't invest sooner rather than later we could end up facing much higher costs in the future.
"We believe we are close to striking the right balance between the needs of customers, the environment and the economy. Although no one likes to see bills increase, we should be able to keep future increases below the rate of inflation."