UK water resources 'left to weather's mercy'

Flood waters of the Ouse The coalition says allowing conditions to lurch between drought and flooding is causing significant damage

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A new report blames the government for leaving the UK's water resources at the mercy of the weather.

The document from 16 leading environmental organisations says it took the wettest ever summer to avert serious drought.

It warns that another series of dry winters would put Britain back on drought alert.

The government said its draft Water Bill would build resilience into the UK's water infrastructure.

The Blueprint for Water report measures the Government's performance against 10 steps to sustainable water by 2015.

It applauds ministers' commitment to tackle unsustainable abstraction from rivers and wetlands, extend the use of metering at a fair price and develop a catchment-based approach to managing the water environment.

But it says ministers are still failing to produce a long-term, sustainable approach which works with our natural water systems.

The groups want much more use of moors, marshes and plants to store and clean rain water, instead of allowing it to run straight into rivers and thus increase the risk of flooding. This would help tackle droughts as well as floods.

The chair of the Blueprint for Water coalition, Carrie Hume, said: "Lack of action to fix our broken water system is a false economy. We cannot continue to lurch between flooding and drought which is damaging for people, businesses and wildlife."

The Blueprint for Water was launched in November 2010. The Government is scored every two years on its progress.

A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: "We know we are facing increasing pressures on our water supply and that is why we have published a draft Water Bill that will build resilience into our water infrastructure by creating the conditions to encourage innovation and reduce demand.

"The draft Bill will reduce red tape and drive innovation in the industry making it easier for water companies to work together to ensure we have secure water supplies for the future."

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  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    You live in a wet climate Britain and you want to drink and use water all year round? Well I would suggest that to do that you would have to store the water and pipe it to your homes, factories and offices? I wonder how you could do that?? Oh yes I know, build reservoirs and take water from large lakes. Oh wait a mo' the Victorians did that but then they were capable engineers...................

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    What was ironic was the way we segued seamlessly from drought warnings and hosepipe bans caused by very low levels in aquifers to warnings of possible flooding caused by, er, very high levels in aquifers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    quit all your moaning, as long as there is stil water coming out the taps, no one cares. we've got to wait for a serious drought to happen before anything will be done, so lets just merrily carry on with our lives till then

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    It just seems that the water companies are intent on giving everone water meters. For them this is the ideal scenario, they get maximum benefit from minimum outlay

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    The UK lacks a cohesive holistic approach to Britain's often sub standard infrastructure, from roads, water, electrical power generation, airports and yet we want to build more housing without sufficient and sustained investment support. When our economy does eventually turn the corner will our current infrastructure be shown to be grossly insufficient!

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    75% of all of the water that we consume is imported - hidden in food and goods. Much of that water comes from drought stricken countries - forced to trade with us because of Word Bank conditions.

    If this government allows fracking for shale gas to proceed our final reserves of water in deep aquifers will be contaminated. Climate change will mean that our imported water dries up.. and then what?

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Much of our infrastructure dates from the Victorian period and needs modernising. However, this won't happen because maximisation of profit demands everything is cut to the bare bones.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Amazing how certain people rushed to make a fortune when Publicly owned Water companies were sold off, but, despite ever growing, (and incredibly high!) bills year upon year, no investment in the infrastructure has taken place. London alone loses more water through leaking mains than it uses.
    Another case of Corporate corruption I suspect ... no-one will be held to account.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    If the government were serious about our water supplies they wouldn't have privatised the water companies.
    We have to buy our water.
    Water companies own it its there responsibility to ensure supply.
    maybe the water companies want a shortage of supply so they can put the price up a la gas and electric

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Yet another British utility that is failing through privatisation! Any/all profits should be re-invested to maintain such an ‘important’ public commodity... instead it’s become just another cash cow for wealthy investors!

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Just like the anti-smoking, anti-drinking brigade, they'll keep on chipping away until they get what they want. Enough is enough!

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    this is what happens when you privatise a utility, the companies only worry about their shareholders not about long term benefits to society, just like the energy cartels we have now who charge as much as they can get away with, and increase their prices just before winter(suprise) don't let tories buy your employment rights the main parties are all career politicians who are all in it together.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    I noticed how the weather had something to do with the water supply. Perhaps a desalination plant for the wealthy south east is the answer rather than it sponging off the rest of the country?

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    If the government were serious about water supplies it would have made it easier for water companies to get planning permission for new resevoirs... As it is, there's not been planning granted for a new one for many years despite the best efforts of the water companies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    I thought that private companies were responsible for our water supply. Could it be that they're not doing their job? Loss of licence should be the sanction if they fail to make adequate provision for improving storage and continuing supply. They took on the billings and should shoulder the responsibility.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    I moved to Australia last year, its rained twice in the last 7 months, and theres water restrictions here.

    It has nothing to do with the weather, but with how water is stored and treated. Not enough effort is being made to fix these issues. Paxman made the waterboard look stupid when he interviewed them some years ago when he basically told them the same thing - wish I could find that video!

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    We need some joined up government. Building new homes without thought for where they are being built ie on flood plains, water run off areas or areas that have previously soaked up excess water therefore increasing the risk of flooding must stop. Consideration should also be given to whether there is sufficient water resource to satisfy an increased head count.We should have all the water we need.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    The water companies have failed. Low storage capacity, leaks, poor sharing of available water, high prices. They blame the weather. Nice try.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    There is quite a lot of opposition to the level of disruption caused by addressing the ageing infrastructure. Also quite a lot of red tape when it comes to building new reservoirs etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    For a country as wet as ours to ever be on a drought alert shows a level of mismanagement that is beyond belief. Ofwat has been in the pockets of the water companies and nowhere near strong enough with water leakage targets.


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