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
    +1

    Comment number 208.

    How can this environment organisation blame the government. They have only been in power for 2 years. The causes of drought go back 20 years or more. Privatisation didn't help. No government can control the weather. Some years it rains, others it doesn't, that has been the case for all time. Instead of wasteing money on wind farms we should be spending the money on infrastructure to protect us.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 207.

    How many people could be employed in installing & maintaining water retention products to domestic/commercial propertys. Thousands

    Why let rainwater escape get dirty/contaminated, flood village/town down stream & then collect/clean it down the line & use energy to send it back to where it STARTED.

    Some things are such basic common sense, future historians will reflect on our selfishness

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 206.

    199 JamesStGeorge said ..."This is an over population problem and that is almost all due to incomers."

    I don't think it can be entirely due to immigration, not that allowing entry to all and sundry helps matters, but I most certainly do agree there is an overpopulation problem. Actually, too many people is at the root of quite a lot of problems.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 205.

    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."

    Note that Business comes before wildlife in this statement.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 204.

    Water should be a state-owned utility, along with gas, electricity and railways.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 203.

    Couple things about this article. This refers to English water only, Scotland suffered no drought and is unlikely to suffer drought. The Water Bill refers to England and Wales only. Please do not lump Scotland in with this article, we are unaffected. Thanks

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 202.

    The current, privatised indursty clearly isn't working as well as it could nad should. Nationalisation as a knee jerk reaction is not necessarily the answer though. This would have an untold cost and make utilities a political football like the NHS and education.

    We are where we are and we need to make the current system work.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 201.

    A tale of woe and incompetence from successive governments going back to the 1960s.

    It's not just this govt but because so many infrastructure issues are becoming critical : water and sewage, rail, roads, new airport runways (don't make me laugh), electricity generation and transmission, house building, nationwide broadband (instead figleaf of 4G launched etc.) that this is now serious..

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 200.

    I live in Suffolk, can you tell me which of Ipswich or Jerusalem has the highest average rainfall? This helps demonstrate the complexity of our problem perhaps.

  • Comment number 199.

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

  • rate this
    +25

    Comment number 198.

    Water companies should be heavily fined when there's a water shortage. The fine should take a form of a profit cap so raising prices to make consumers pay the fine doesn't work. Yes we have to pay to improve matters but the extra money needed just now should come at the expense of water companies, not from customers paying more in the short term; customers aren't to blame for decades of neglect.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 197.

    Does anyone really expect profit-motivated companies to collaborate for the future good of UKplc? Nationalise the lot and the problem will be solved. By the way, Arups have conclded that the £60m annual tolls collected on the Severn Crossings have a £120m detrimental effect on the Welsh economy. Remedy should be a no-brainer but execution not possible due to private ownership of the bridges.

  • Comment number 196.

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

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 195.

    You don't say!

    The Britons knew that even before the Romans arrived!

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 194.

    National water grid.... It doesn't need massive pipework for short term water transfer in emergencies, it needs a constant year round low feed. Perfectly possible with current (sorry) technology.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 193.

    What we need is more storage and ways to share it around. You wont get that with the currant system, of ownership and profit. We are the ones that pay and we should not be paying others for what is ours.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 192.

    All the indisciminate building all over flood plains and not a thought about the inevitable run-off effect of covering so much land with tarmac & contrete. Then drainage systems can't cope & oh no! there's widespread flooding with all the misery and expense that entails.
    The govt always jumps at more & more building as the engine of economic recovery in hard times - do they never join the dots?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 191.

    It is bad practice and refusal to invest by the water companies that is the issue, make the imposition of water restrictions on consumers meean that the companies get no income from the restricted area. They have had years of increasing prices and still will not put in more reservoirs, when it becomes cheaper to supply than leave it to chance these companies will do so.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 190.

    It's clear that we demand to have this maintained as a public commodity. Commodities such as energy, water and transport should be ran by the people and not by the corporations.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 189.

    Private ownership of water is morally repugnant as water is a natural resource and a basic human need that should be managed for the public good not invidual gain, now we can see that is does not even 'work' in it's own terms. How can you have a 'market' in water? The only answer is taking water supply back into public ownership.

 

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