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 108.

    It still amazes me that such a cold, wet country has water issues.

    Talk to the Australians about water, they know a thing or two about ensuring supplies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    It seems appalling that there can be drought conditions in a country with such rainfall.

    There is probably an extent to which we as consumers need to get better at reducing wastage but it seems that the infrastructure is in grave need of improving to this end. Potentially by a combination of imposing leakage penalties and tax relief on relevant infrastructure maintenance and improvements.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    So this is the "increased innovation and efficiency which comes from competition" that we were all promised would result from privatisation?

    Utilities: Not a real market and expensive.
    Public transport: Bid for every 10-15 years and then not a real market and expensive.
    Care homes: A market of sorts but poor care and very expensive.

    Lessons learned? No! Health, education and police up next.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    This country has to be one of the most backward thinking countries on earth. All our infrastructure and services are falling to pieces and yet we are charged so much for these (poor) services. Our governments don't seem to be able to see beyond yesterday (and big pay packets) so nothing gets modernised or updated until it becomes urgent. All talk and no action. We are literally standing still.

  • Comment number 104.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    Its all the immigrants fault!! Ah the favourite cry of the right wing.

    There is plenty of water, there is no water shortage. What we have is inadequate infrastructure due to the privatisation of the water industry which puts profit above investment in the infrastructure. The average lost to leaks every year is 17%. Despite this companies continue to make hundreds of millions in profit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    @50 What you say may be true,but there is no need for complacency.In Scotland there are plenty of reservoirs and rainfall ensuring no real problems.The north of England it is pretty much the same.In the south there is a fine balance between supply and demand.It would be better if the supply were re-nationalised and money put where it should be than in the pockets of "the Friends of Westminster"

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    At the mercy of the weather? There's plenty of water in this country. We are at the mercy of a drive to build more houses, ergo more water demands. But do the govmt then tell the the fatcat water execs that they need to update their infrastructure in order to accommodate the higher demands? No. The rich drink from the tap of greed while us normal folk chase the drips...

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    Surely this is not the governments problem, but the water companies. And we the consumer should withold payments for water bills until these companies stop paying dividends & put that money to developing a better & garunteed water suppy.
    Better still, re nationalise the water companies so 'we' own the water supply & can force government to act!

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    Never mind. I'm sure the government's plans for unrestricted development in the South East of England will help. Not.

  • Comment number 98.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    Privatisation is irrelevant. If (as) we need better infrastructure we will have to pay one way or another. Nothing to stop the government imposing leakage and storage measures - which they should. And at the same time, impose better building regs so that energy is better used. Who pays? We do of course - who else, Santa Claus? Sustainable power is expensive too - but better for us to control it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    All these idiots ranting on about shareholders. Don't forget these shareholders are large financial institutions trying to earn your savings/pension monies. You seem very quick to turn on these companies when they don't earn a decent dividend but complain about investments. Sometimes people just need to get real.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    Inconsistent management by the water companies, a neutered regulatory organisation and a constant lack of interest by politicians in maintaining/improving the infrastructure of the UK has led us to this situation. Yes we are better off than many other countries, but I think it will only get worse before it gets better (if it ever does).

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    The problem with utility privatisation is that profits are not re-invested in the company but distributed, by and large, to stakeholders. Any costs to the company are then met by increased bills to their customers. These companies should not be permitted to claim a profit, and as a result dividends and bonuses, if they are at the same time failing to reinvest some of the profit in infrastructure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    50. Sid - "which other countries? Nigeria, Bangladesh, Somalia - or US, Germany France?
    This is the 21st century in a country with exhorbitant taxes and utility charges which clearly are not being reinvested sufficiently to stop grotesque leakages or develop a water grid.
    I suspect Sid wouldn't be so sanguine if he was on dialysis and his machine was off due to water shortages

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    Here in Scotland, with our public water service, we don't have a problem. Okay, we get more water, but we seem to use it better.

    This is not a UK problem. It's a problem for all water users in England and Wales who are told that their water supply "at the mercy of the weather", as they watch the fat cats cream off the profits, and they pay for the underinvestment

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    The sins of the ancestors bear fruit...sad thing is they are at it again right now and the public en masse ignore it at their own peril and their childrens peril, stop this government privatising the NHS and abolishing the welfare system, you saved the trees and the badgers, how about you save our future?!
    Where are you BBC, in their pockets!

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    To all those who complain that governments are short term, please promise to vote for the same government for the next 20 years so they don't have to constantly chase after your short term voting whims.

    Of course governments are short term, For 5 years they try to sort out the mess left by the previous administration, then they ARE the previous administration.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    Is this yet another unplanned consequence of the multicultural dogma of open door immigration in the 2000s?
    I mean, people have got to drink, wash, and go to the loo, right?
    So every year we need more water for 200,000 immigrants.
    That's not a criticism of them as individuals, but the policy that allowed them the rights of unfettered access.


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