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 48.

    The problem with the UK water inductry is more accountancy issues than climate. Replacing ageing pipes from an accounting point of view is considered a cost rather than an investment. To build a new dam is an investment as is installing water meters... Thus we end up looking at the wrong solutions because CEO's/Shareholders only look at the short term. The victorians had much longer timeframes...

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    The best way to store water is locally in storm tanks in new homes. It is cheaper and reliable.

    It is absurd that we all get litres of water free on a regular basis, throw it away and pay money to bring back into our homes not to mention the carbon footprint of doing so but that won’t mean big investment projects where fat cats can get fatter building reservoirs and installing new pipelines.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    Anything that is a basic essential to the life of the people should be in the possession of the people

    End of chat

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    Great ideas!! Just a couple of questions - how much will it cost and who's going to pay for it? Perhaps the authors of this document could arrange the funding.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    Big businesses and household who can afford it could be allowed to drill their own boreholes. With the loss of income to water companies they will be forced to provide a decent service to the remainder of us the public

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    Maybe this is something we can learn about from Spain which has a tad less rainfall than us? Short term thinking and planning will be our downfall in more than just water...

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Yippee! I am top of the -ve ratings!!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    What a load of twaddle.
    We are surrouded by it.
    Desalination plants anyone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Thank God for the Victorians who built an infrastructure with excessive capacity.

    Where they failed was to not recognise the stupidity of future governments who opened the door to immigration that "flooded" our country with people when there was no additional investment on our infrastructure to support them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    As long as the water companies have to pay dividends to shareholders they will look to maximise profits at the expense of improving infrastructure.

    Cynically speaking, no doubt future droughts will be good for business as I suspect they will serve as jusification for increasing water rates to "improve infrastructure..."

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Whilst at school in the 70s our geography teacher told us that we have enough rainfall in this country but that we don't collect it efficiently. If a geography teacher back then knew we didn't have enough reservoirs ....

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    'UK water resources 'left to weather's mery'
    Since when has it not? This isn't news this is typical non news.
    We had V day yesterday and you dont even mention it.......tut tut BBC.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    I think we're missing a trick here. Why not send the board of Thames Water to drought ridden countries and get them to charge the populace extortionist amounts for their water? Then they announce a hosepipe ban and hey presto no more drought! It has never failed to work here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Our governments have for many years ignored the 'future' and only lived and worked for 'their terms' in office. They have invested in nothing but themselves

    I have visions of water being the price of gold, and then what?

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    OK it is easy to point out the faults now what concreate things are you propossing? in making policy it does not matter on the cost, though it is better to go cheap medium then everythings you want, thats the political peoples job. it is easy to complain but what are we looking at to do to correct it ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Unfortunately the same can be said for all the utilities. The philosophy differs from us to suppliers. We are at the mercy of profit motivated companies whose first allegiance is to their shareholders. This is backed by a raft of toothless legislation and regulation.Until these utilities are returned to public ownership we are destined to suffer. We have much to thank Mrs Thatcher for.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    What concerns me is that our local water company continues to sell off water storage. We have lost two local reservoirs in the last year to housing developments. It just seems they are moving in the wrong direction!

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    We've hardly invested in infrastructure for 20 or 30 years in an effort to save a bit of money despite our population growing quickly. We're paying the price for it now and will continue to pay it for years to come. The sad things is we haven't really saved money we just changed when we spent it by a few years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    More stuck records, repeating the same litany endlessly.

    So, when nationalised, did water, gas, electricity, telephones, railways work better?
    No, they did not.

    Did we get strikes, endless demand for higher wages, lower hours, disruptions?
    Yes we did.

    Privatisation is far from perfect, but nationalisation?

    That would put us on a par with the desperate leadership in Argentina (for example)

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Stop concreting over every flood plain. Stop building houses on every piece of green land. Get some decent infrastructure in to manage the water we have. This isn't rocket science but it needs a concerted will and a lot of finance.


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