South West Water has announced £850 million plans to improve Cornwall's water and sewerage service, but it will mean higher bills.
Under the plans, Water treatment works in Falmouth and Bude will be upgraded to improve tap water quality, flood defences will be built at the company's sites in Restormal, Drift and Falmouth to keep them running in extreme weather, sewerage networks will be improved to protect the shellfisheries along the Fal Estuary from polution, sewers prone to blockages in Helston and Hayle will be tackled and the main pipes around Launceston will be duelled.
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. Our aim is to invest in the right things at the right time to both improve our services and give the region the reliable ‘always there’ infrastructure it needs.
“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.
“However, before we finalise our plan in December, we need to hear whether customers think we are getting it right. Should we invest more or less in each area? I urge everyone to get involved in WaterFuture to make sure we do the best job for you.”
Customers, groups and organisations have until September 14 to give their feedback by visiting clicking heret or writing to Freepost Waterfuture.