A PIONEERING scheme will soon see Bexley homeowners checking their water meters online.

Bexley will be the first area in the country to receive Thames Water’s 'smart' water meters from the start of next year, with 43,000 being installed across the borough in the first 12 months.

The high-tech meters connect to a wireless network and allow customers to monitor how much water they are using around the clock, with readings taken every 15 minutes.

Thames Water also says it will offer customers free repairs if water leaks are found in supply pipes under gardens and driveways, in a further bid to save water.

Head of metering Steve Plumb said: "We all have a vital role to play in reducing demand for water, but first everyone needs to understand what they are using.

"That’s why we’re fitting smart meters across our region, starting with Bexley, as by knowing more we can all waste less.

"By using smart meters we will be putting our customers in greater control of their bills, using the most advanced technology."

Detached, semi-detached and terraced houses will be the first to receive 'smart' meters in Bexley by March 2015 but flats will have to wait until April 2015.

Thames Water aims to have a water meter in 73 per cent of Bexley homes by mid 2015, compared to 27 per cent today.

The new meters will also help protect Bexley’s water supply, which comes from boreholes into groundwater at the River Darent.

Chairman of the Darent river preservation society Alan Williams said: "We fully support the principle of water metering and other measures to reduce demand.

"Over the past decade we have worked very hard to restore the River Darent.

"We have achieved some improvements and there is still more to be done to ensure this beautiful river remains safe for generations to come."

Thames Water also says it will fix leaks found on customers’ supply pipes under gardens and driveways free of charge, in a further bid to save water.