Southern Water is planning to use local plumbers to fix household leaks following the urging of Lewes MP Norman Baker.
The Liberal Democrat MP wrote to Southern Water and South East Water, suggesting the companies could work with local plumbers to provide a subsidised tap fixing service, where the customer and water company shared the cost.
In response, Southern Water has contacted the MP to discuss the matter and confirmed that it plans to enter into negotiations with local plumbers to arrange a discount for customers where it identifies leakage that the customer is responsible for.
"We can then advise our customers of the plumbers participating in the scheme, which will benefit both parties and drive water savings,” a spokesperson said.
The details of this scheme are still being worked on, however, as part of the revised leakage framework Southern Water have included for the repair of minor leaks to assist customers and save water. Such repairs will include ball valves, minor meter leaks and internal tap re-washering.
This will help reduce leakage on customers' pipes, which account for 20% of overall leaks, and also enable them to save money if they have a meter fitted.
“We are recording our lowest levels of leakage in four years. Since September 2011, we have beaten the target set by regulator Ofwat by about 10 million litres of water per day - and we will beat our 2011/12 target of 93 million litres per day,” said the spokesperson.
“We have teams working around the clock to repair leaks on our pipes- but not all leaks are visible making them difficult to find. Some of our mains run through rural areas, fields and under rivers and watercourses. Many leaks occur underground, from millions of joints that make up our distribution network.”
Southern Water also has a five-year metering programme underway which will see 500,000 new water meters, equipped with leak alarms, installed for the majority of customers in the South East by 2015.
The leak alarms are expected to save up to five million litres of water per day.
Southern Water customers can call the freephone leakline when they spot what could be a leak on 0800 820 999.