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
    +4

    Comment number 188.

    To understand why we have stopped building reservoirs and just ask people to use less water, you have to follow the money. Water companies, privatised, want maximum profits before anything else and it does not pay them to pay out capital sums to act like public services. Much easier to ask customers to pay more and use less.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 187.

    Oh dear this is surely a bit of an oxymoron.
    what we really need is strategic infrastructure planning, something we started to stop the smell from the Thames and stop the workers dying from Cholera.
    Now we just do not do strategic planning in case it eupsets Brussels and we get fined (while we give em more and more)

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 186.

    All the reports and proposals are great, until someone actually wants to start to build something like a reservoir or major pipeline. Then all the ecos and nimbys fight it for years and years until it's too late. There is no simple fix to this, it's going to take major infrastructure development which will take years, yet nobody wants it in their patch. Damned if they do, damned if they don't.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 185.

    The problem, rather than there being not enough water, is that there are too many people....but no leftist leaning think tank will ever admit that........................

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 184.

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

    Errr... but the 5million+ net migration into the UK over the past 15 years will also play a big part here also.

    You cannot have these large numbers of extra people into a small island nation then avoid mentioning it in a report like this - it smacks of a Jimmy Savile-like cover up.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 183.

    I've been saying we should de-sal sea water for years. some of the smaller countries, on the Med' and elsewhere have been doing this for year. Especially now that we are responsible for the Polar Ice caps melting, we should be drinking it, so to speak! ¦:op

  • rate this
    +15

    Comment number 182.

    We need infrastructure planning; more reservoirs to cope with the increase in population. This is nothing new. The Victorians managed it, yet we can't.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 181.

    People's comments about UK having "so much rainfall" are unfounded. On a "per person" basis - which is far more important than on a "total" basis - the average rainfall in the South East of the UK is LOWER than that of Tunisia (and other smaller African countries). Not only should water be more effectviely managed, but people ought to take some of their own responsibility for this scarce resource.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 180.

    This is what happens when key resources are privatised. A business's goal is to make a profit, during a housing boom what is the best way to do that if you've got loads of land, especially in the SE? Fill in the reservoir and sell it to a developer!
    What is the result? More people and less water.
    Are we really surprised?
    Private profits, nationalised risks.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 179.

    Privatisation is unquestionably part of the problem. Companies look to generate profits in the short term. Infrastructure - like water supply - is long term which invariably means government involvement. Those who think the private sector should run public utilities should not blame government when things go wrong. The rest of us think the private sector shouldn't be involved at all.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 178.

    Fine these companies £1 for every litre of water they waste (currently about 3bn per day). That might shock them into actually doing something about it!

    Or

    Install more meters so that they can slowly hike the prices to fill their shareholder's pockets

    I know which one we are more likely to get!

    It is a disgrace that we have to even consider the idea of drought in the UK!!!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 177.

    If you own your own house then instead of getting new patio/ fences or pond or landscaping or ripping out a good kitchen to replace with fashionable one etc dont be ignorant & stupid & IRRESPONSIBLE, invest in your own water retention & ADD real value to your home, save money & energy & water long term.

    Its stupid that government does not remove VAT from ALL water retention products & instals

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 176.

    Since well before I was a boy back in the fifties there has always been a drought situation in the South East and there have been plans to shift water from the North East, where there's far too much water, via pipelines or the canal system.
    It's always been considered too expensive at the time. I seem to remember a figure of 1 million pounds back in the late 50's. Billions now of course.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 175.

    The residents of Devon & Cornwall number approx 1.5 million but peaks to around 8 million during summer. This variation places a huge demand on water resources & so the location & capacity of its strategic reservoirs is critical to providing enough water. One of the major reservoirs is Roadford but following protests & obstruction from environmentalists its final location was 7th choice. Cheers.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 174.

    Like everything else in this Country, we spend money we need on Countries who dont need it and are then suprised that our own infrastructure is falling apart from lack of maintenance and spending.
    We should stop being ashamed to be British, English, Irish, Welsh or Scottish, and take pride once again in ourselves - and Our Country.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 173.

    There is a consistent theme here-All of the utilities in the UK have been under funded for decades and the privatization of water, gas and trains has done nothing to reverse this and may well have made matters worse in the short-term as prices for these services are ramped up hurting the whole economy and in the long term as money is sucked out and handed over to share holders rather than invested

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 172.

    @97 skippo
    Privatisation has everything to do with it. A business is concerned with making a sustained profit for its shareholders, not in guaranteeing a supply of water in a drought. Domestic users cannot choose supplier, so there is no incentive to spend to ensure their custom.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 171.

    @161, typical ignorant view of possible independence. It's about the only thing you could sell to England but it will never happen because the infrastructure to carry water would cost Billions.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 170.

    Well our water supply is always at the weather's mercy. The question is how it's managed to ensure good supply.

    We're still losing huge amounts through leaks and there's no plan to take the extra water that keeps saturating the west and transporting it across to the east where they get droughts.

    Even the Romans managed this better than us!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 169.

    Anything that is a necessity should be Nationalised or be none profit making.
    Water, Gas, Electricity, Railway etc should not be making profits for people on enormous pay packets !!
    Having said that the south east have sea water around them to use !

 

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