The meters are meant to limit water use because people know they will be charged for how much they use, causing some consumers to think twice before washing the car or watering the garden.
Where water shortages are greatest in the south and east of England, more than half of all homes now have it.
Very few had meters before the water supply and sewage industry was privatized in 1989. A lot of water had always been wasted and meters were seen as part of the answer.
Ever since the great drought of 1976, there had been much concern that the country was facing an insufficient water supply for a growing population.
Both the government and the newly privatized companies believed that the introduction of meters was an essential means of conserving supplies. Metered households have been said to use 20% less water, potentially eliminating the need for new tanks.
Scroll to the current crisis and the counters have taken on a different role. While environmentally conscious and financially strained consumers are saving water, some better-off consumers are spraying their gardens, filling their ponds and pools, and washing their cars regardless because water is still relatively cheap.
No wonder corporations don’t want a garden hose ban – shareholders will earn millions in dividends during the drought.