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The Brookmans Park water metering trial 1989-1992

Photograph of a Brookmans Park EWI - External Wall Interface - unit. Image by the North Mymms History Project released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
A EWI (External Wall Interface) unit on the outside of a Brookmans Park house
Image by the North Mymms History Project released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

In April 1989, Brookmans Park was selected to be one of several areas nationwide to trial domestic water metering. More than 1,000 local properties were chosen, joining 60,000 households around the country where water meters were also installed. The trial was to last three years.

Home owners had no choice. There was no opt out. All households within the trial area were required, by law, to participate in the trial. Well, there was one choice, you could have the interface mounted on an external wall or in a slim grey pillar in the front garden.

Some still remain in place almost 30 years later. At the top of this feature is an external wall interface (EWI). Below is a picture of another EWI which has been painted over. Below that is an image of one of the grey pillars.


Photograph of a Brookmans Park EWI - External Wall Interface - unit. Image by the North Mymms History Project released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0
A Brookmans Park EWI (External Wall Interface) unit, painted over more then 20 years ago
Image by the North Mymms History Project released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0

Photograph of one of the slim grey pillars used in the Brookmans Park water meter trial of 1989-92. Image courtesy of Peter Dalling
One of the slim grey pillars used in the Brookmans Park water meter trial of 1989-92
Image courtesy of Peter Dalling

The initiative was undertaken in accordance with the Public Utilities Transfers and Water Charges Act 1988.

Information booklets and flyers were printed by the former Lee Valley Water Company to set out the reasons for metering.









Over the period of the trial several flyers were printed and delivered door-to-door putting the case for water metering.












At the same time, water metering was being opposed by some campaign groups such as Thames Water Anti-Privatisation Committee.






Newspaper reports four and a half years later claimed that 1,145 Brookmans Park households took part in the trial and, of those, 78% opted to retain the meters having, according to the Welwyn Hatfield Times, seen bills drop on average by 49%. (see cutting below)






The trials around the country involved various technologies and various measurements of usage. In Brookmans Park water usage was charged differently depending on whether the use occurred during "peak" or "off-peak" times of day and during winter or summer. The Brookmans Park technology was not rolled out nationally and a flat rate charge per cubic meter is now standard.

28 years later, in 2018, Affinity Water was still rolling out its "Meter Journey" with plans to install meters across the area.






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