Water is emerging as the new battle front in the struggle over the cost of living
Three of the UK's biggest water companies are lifting hosepipe bans, imposed to deal with drought, following weeks of heavy rain.
Hosepipe bans in place since April are to be lifted by three of the UK's biggest water companies.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has confirmed the government's move to examine water prices next week.
– Defra statement
The Government is working across the board to reduce the cost of living and help hard-working households who are feeling the pinch.
We want to ensure customers get a good deal from the water sector and will be setting out our approach next week.
Prime Minister David Cameron will take action to help households struggling to meet rising water bills, his spokesman said.
"There'll be some progress next week on water bills," the spokesman said. "The prime minister wants to see household expenditure being brought down."
His comments suggested that Britain's biggest water companies could join energy giants at the centre of a political row over the rising cost of living ahead of an election in 2015.
Millions of families in Britain could face higher bills under new government plans to install compulsory water meters in homes, the Daily Telegraph has claimed.
The Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson MP, this week approved plans to make water companies across a third of the UK fit meters and bill customers for usage.
Ministers have warned that reservoirs are at risk of running dry due to water shortages.
A study of 86,000 British homes by the Energy Saving Trust Foundation found the following:
- Hot water use contributes £228 to the average annual combined energy bill
- Britons shower 4.4 times a week and take 1.3 baths on average
- The average shower lasts 7.5 minutes. Cutting a minute off that time could save households £215 million each year.
- Just over a fifth of household water is used by kitchen appliances such as dishwashers, kettles, taps and washing machines
- 95% of people boil the kettle every day while 75% of people overfill
(Energy Saving Trust Foundation)
Three-quarters of British households are wasting £68 million a year by overfilling the kettle, according to a new report.
The study by the Energy Saving Trust Foundation found that many small changes to the way we use water could result in big savings on energy bills.
Some of the areas where the biggest savings could be made are by reducing time spent in the shower and by using a modern dishwasher rather than washing by hand.
The average household water and sewerage bill in England and Wales is set to increase by 3.5% over the next year, regulator Ofwat said.
Households will pay an average of £388 from April 2013 to March 2014 - 0.5% above the rate of inflation.
Avid gardener Barbara Lucas describes the continued hosepipe ban from South East Water as "ironic". She says everything is "so dripping wet" that that she can't touch anything in the garden.
ITV News asked Mrs Lucas what the weather has been like:
As a local resident, Mrs Lucas lives within the South East Water patch where current groundwater levels remain very low and therefore the water restrictions will remain in place.
For more information see ITV News Meridian.
Water levels at Bewl reservoir in Kent have doubled in just over two months. At the beginning of April the reservoir was 40% full, it is now 80% full.
Southern Water announced they were able to lift the hosepipe ban as recent "significant rainfall" has enabled the reservoir to begin to recover from drought.
- England experienced 26.5 millimetres (mm) of rain, 40% normal levels
- Wales and the South West had 30.0 mm, 30% of normal levels
- South and South East England had 27.8 mm, 47% of normal levels
- England experienced 134.2 mm of rain, 236% of normal levels
- Wales and the South West had 175.8 mm, 235% of normal levels
- South and South East England had 135.4 mm, 257% of normal levels
- England experienced 52.3 mm of rain, 94% of normal levels
- Wales and the South West had 58.2 mm, 81% of normal levels
- South and South East England had 43.1 mm, 83% of normal levels