Officials say that water costs are likely to go up.
The head of the regulator Ofwat said that water companies are likely to try to raise prices in 2025 to cover the cost of improving services.
It comes after the biggest suppliers were criticized harshly for how well they handled sewage spills and fixed leaks.
Many of them also have a lot of debt, and right now, Thames Water is in danger of being taken over by the government.
David Black, the head of Ofwat, said that it had not failed to regulate the business well.
But he said there were “hard lessons to learn” and that he was “angered” by the high pay of chief executives in the industry.
Even though he was being criticized, Mr. Black told BBC Radio 4’s “Today” show that customers’ bills would likely go up as companies tried to get better.
“We expect companies to ask for higher bills at the next price review so they can pay for big investment projects that will help the environment.”
Last Wednesday, George Eustice, who was the environment secretary before, said that bills will go up again in 2025 by an average of £42 per family over a “long time frame.”
It came after a story in the Times newspaper said that prices could go up by as much as 40%. Mr. Eustice said that the real number would be “far lower” than 40%.
The group that speaks for suppliers, Water UK, told the BBC that any price hikes would be up to the government.
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Last week, it came out that Thames Water was having trouble getting the money it needs to pay its huge $14 billion loan.
The company, which serves a quarter of the people in the UK, has come under fire for sewage leaks and spills and is being pushed to improve its services.
If Thames can’t raise the money, it could be put into a “special administration regime,” where it would be temporarily taken over by the government. However, Mr. Black said this was only a “backup option” and “we’re still a long way from that.”
He said that Thames had until “early next year” to come up with the money and that it already had £4.2bn in cash on hand.
When asked if buyers would have to pay if the business went bankrupt, he said, “No.”
Later, an Ofwat representative told the BBC that there are no links to what happened with Bulb, the energy company that went bankrupt last year and cost the government millions of dollars.
“This isn’t a light-bulb moment, and there’s no on/off switch,” they said.