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Water Boss Gets £418,359 Bonus Amid Drought

(c) Sky News 2012

The boss of Thames Water has been awarded a bonus nearly equal to his annual salary after a year in which a hosepipe ban was announced and customer satisfaction "deteriorated".

Chief executive Martin Baggs was awarded an annual bonus of £418,359 for the year to March 31, on top of his £425,000 salary, according to the company's annual report.

Mr Baggs, who was appointed in March 2010, is also in line to receive hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of shares in the next four years under a long-term incentive plan.

The UK's largest water and wastewater services provider announced a hosepipe ban affecting its 9m customers in March after a drought took hold across many parts of the country.

Thames Water previously said the situation was "entirely to do with the weather", as the Thames region suffering the driest two-year period for nearly 125 years.

But it has since said that it no longer expected to keep the ban through to the autumn after record rainfall across the UK in April and further downpours in May and June.

The water provider saw a drop in pre-tax profits of 12.6% to £182.2m in the year to the end of March.

It said the drop was mainly driven by higher bad debts in the economic climate.

During the period, the firm also suffered from a drop in its customer satisfaction level, and a rise in the number of pollution reports.

However, it delivered £1bn in investments, reduced its leakage rates and improved drinking water quality, with an expectation of the hosepipe ban being lifted soon.

The company has pledged to spend nearly £5bn over five years to 2015, which in the last financial year included improvements to water pipes, sewers and other facilities including the Thames tunnel.

Thames Water said it hit its sixth successive annual leakage-reduction target, beating the daily goal agreed by regulator Ofwat by 36 megalitres.