WITH more water around than anyone could possibly need, water company Severn Trent is announcing a 'below inflation' average £7 rise for its customers in the Forest and elsewhere.

The company says Gloucestershire will continue to have the lowest average combined household water bills in England and Wales over the coming year.

"Combined water and sewage bills will rise by an average of around £7 (according to Ofwat figures just released), lower than the 3 per cent rate of inflation," Severn Trent states.

"At £335, or 92 pence a day, Severn Trent's average bill for 2013/14 remains the lowest thanks to a package of cost saving improvements at the company, which supplies over eight million customers from mid-Wales to Rutland and from the Bristol Channel to the Humber.

"The rise will help to fund an ongoing investment programme of £1.3 million a day, which includes spending £14.5 million to protect 60 homes from sewer flooding and investing more than £26 million in renewing 195,000 metres of water pipes across Gloucestershire."

Simon Mullan, credit manager at Severn Trent Water, said: "Any price rise, however small, is unwelcome in the current economic climate, but we have worked hard to keep bills as affordable as possible for our customers.

"In fact our customers will be paying an average of 92 pence a day – that's less than the average cost for a litre of bottled water.

"In addition we want to make sure that our customers continue to receive a high-quality, cost-effective service through our investment programme. As a result, over the last 12 months we have invested more than £500 million in renewing and replacing our network of water to reduce leaks and bursts, and sewer pipes to prevent sewer flooding.

"At the same time, we appreciate that everyone has had to tighten their belts during the recent economic downturn, and there is help available for our customers. As soon as you feel you are having financial difficulties please speak to us. There are many ways that you can pay your water bill and we will help you find the payment arrangement which suits you best."