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Rolling out smart water metering by 2030 would deliver huge benefits for households, the environment and the water industry, according to new analysis.

·         Rolling out smart meters makes clear environmental and social sense, according to new cost-benefit analysis by Frontier Economics and Artesia.

·Research from Waterwise shows smart metering improves awareness of and action on water saving.

·Commissioned by Arqiva, the research underlines the need for an accelerated and comprehensive smart meter rollout.

November 23 2021, UK, London:

Rolling out smart water metering by 2030 would deliver huge benefits for households, the environment and the water industry, according to new analysis.

Independent research carried out by Frontier Economics and Artesia shows that a coordinated rollout of smart metering would deliver £4.4bn in benefits to society against costs of £2.5bn. That represents a net benefit of £1.9bn.

The analysis points to an environmental and social benefit of £1.73 for every £1 of cost incurred. Savings would come from improved leakage control and network management, and by avoiding the need for other water resources.

The return on investment would mean water companies incurred lower total costs, which in turn should enable reduced water bills for households over time. The study was commissioned by Arqiva, the leading UK communications infrastructure and media services provider.

Existing research by independent UK water efficiency experts Waterwise and Arqiva also demonstrates a clear environmental benefit. Fitting one million smart water meters in the UK each year for the next 15 years could save one billion litres of water a day by the mid-2030s, and reduce the UK’s current greenhouse gas emissions by up to 0.5%.

The study shows a positive benefits-to-cost ratio in all areas of England and Wales. The highest ratio is in the South-East and East of England and reflects higher existing meter penetration and greater water scarcity in those areas.

The figures also show that while smart watering metering delivers the strongest return when households are moved onto metering charging within three years of installation, there is still a positive benefit-to-cost ratio when meters are rolled out but households choose to stick with unmetered billing. This is because a high proportion of customers are expected to switch to metered charging over time, and benefits such as leak detection and improved flow estimation are independent of billing and consumer behaviour.

Research from Waterwise has found encouraging signs that the public is receptive to smart water metering. Nine in ten already have smart technology in their home and 87% would consider getting a smart water meter if it would lead to a reduction in bills and was fitted for free.

Crucially, the research highlights that metered customers are more likely to be aware of the water scarcity challenges we face in the UK, are more likely to be aware of their own water use, and are much more likely to act to try to save water.

Laurie Patten, Director of Strategy and Regulation at Arqiva, said: “The positive impact of smart water metering is crystal clear – for consumers, the environment, and for industry too. Progress is being made but more needs to be done, especially given the urgency of the climate challenge facing us all. More positive support from governments and regulators to encourage and accelerate a comprehensive smart meter rollout would see these benefits realised at a much faster pace.”

Nicci Russell, Managing Director at Waterwise, said: “We know we need to reduce water demand to adapt to climate change, secure future water supplies and protect our rivers and streams. More smart water metering would be a game-changer in helping us do this. Our research shows that people who are metered are more connected to their water use and far more likely to try to save water. In addition, the insights from smart water meter data can really help water companies support their customers with water saving, including through spotting household leaks.”

Rob Lawson, Director at Artesia, said: “These findings make a clear social and environmental case for smart water metering. While the responsibility for planning and their delivery sits with individual water companies, these companies work within a regulatory framework shaped by the government, Environment Agency, and Ofwat, and all these organisations must come together to ensure that the universal benefits of smart water metering are supported and encouraged.”

Rob Francis, Associate Director at Frontier Economics, said: “This detailed research reveals a significant and sustained opportunity where the expected gains to society far outweigh the potential costs. Furthermore, the rollout of smart metering provides the option for further benefits to be delivered in the future, strengthening the case for this technology to be deployed.”

The research from Artesia, Frontier and Waterwise was launched at a webinar hosted by Waterwise on 23 November. Attendees heard about the new research, the latest insights from Thames Water and Anglian Water on their rollout programmes, and an expert policy panel including CCW, Defra, the National Infrastructure Commission, MOSL and the Chair of the UK Water Efficiency Strategy Steering Group.



Frontier Economics and Artesia identified values for a range of costs and benefits associated with smart meters and converted these into values per household based on meter type. The analysis reflects best practice in evaluation and is consistent with HM Treasury Green Book methods for evaluation. The study assumes a 30-year timeframe, a smart water rollout across a 5-year period, a 15-year lifespan for devices, and calculates the benefit to cost ratio as the net present value (NPV) of gross benefits divided by the NPV of gross costs.

Primary data used in the Waterwise study is based on a survey of 1,026 residents in the UK and the findings from two focus groups, carried out between July and September 2021.

Contact details

Ellie Maddin, WE Communications for Arqiva

+44 (0) 7557819421


About Arqiva

Arqiva is at the heart of the broadcast and utilities sectors in the UK and abroad, providing critical data, network and communications services.

We work in partnership with our customers – major broadcasters and utilities like the BBC, ITV, Sky, Global, Bauer, Thames Water and Anglian Water – to meet everyone’s demand for information, content and entertainment and enabling a switched-on world to flow.

We are the only supplier of national terrestrial television and radio broadcasting services in the UK, consistently delivering digital TV, analogue and digital radio to people in all four corners of the country. We distribute over 1,000 channels internationally using our fibre and satellite infrastructure. Our advanced, secure and dedicated networks are also supporting the management of critical data for a range of smart metering networks in the energy and water sectors.

For more information, news and insights from Arqiva, please visit the website at:

About Artesia

Artesia is a dynamic and forward-thinking company serving the water sector since 2008.

Artesia uses a combination of extensive industry knowledge and expert data science skills to provide specialist solutions, consultancy and technical support in water resource management, water supply planning, asset management, and water conservation.

About Frontier

Frontier Economics is a consulting firm with over 300 economists across London, Berlin, Brussels, Cologne, Dublin, Madrid and Paris.

Frontier Economics specialises in competition, regulation, and strategy across all major sectors and areas of economic analysis. The company also advises on all aspects of the economics of water including regulatory design, market mechanisms, investment appraisal, and environmental economics. Recent clients include Ofwat, UKWIR, Water UK, and many water utilities.

About Waterwise

Waterwise was founded in 2005 and is the leading authority on water efficiency in the UK. It is an independent, not-for-profit organisation and its vision is that water will be used wisely, every day, everywhere.

Waterwise works in a range of areas including: influencing and shaping policy and legislation; driving strategic and practical ambition in the water sector; designing and delivering research; media, campaigns and promotion; running demonstration projects; promoting water-efficient technology; helping businesses be more water-efficient; facilitating partnerships; brokering new solutions; and training water efficiency practitioners.

For more information please visit the website at




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