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

Related Stories

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."

Follow Roger on Twitter


More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 248.

    The UK has one of the finest water engineering professions in the world. We can guarantee to eliminate droughts and flooding. If you want to pay for it, we can do it. It really is that simple.

  • rate this

    Comment number 247.

    Just another area which needs 'fixing'. BUT our dozy government knows nothing about water - just one of hundreds of subjects it knows nothing about. How much have the salaries of Water Executives gone up?

  • rate this

    Comment number 246.

    Water companies and accountants have sold off some their assets (reservoirs) for housing developments and cut everything to the bone, increased water bills and profits for shareholders, so much so they pray that it rains, if it doesn't it's the consumers fault for using too much water and your bills will have to go up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 245.

    It is essential that the UK has a long term policy in place for water provision, which is above party politics and long term. Hopefully the Blueprint for Water will provide this.
    We need to plan for water capture and storage as a matter of course.
    Water provision is the most basic need for all life and must be planned in for now and all future development in the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 244.

    1 Minute Ago
    Buy a house in France and you pay less than £1500 per year for all rates, water, electricity, services etc - why do we pay so much?

    Because the sale of British water to private companies was unregulated. It costs more to provide water in France? Raise prices in the UK because the French Government regulate price rises and the British Government can't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    Over population in this tiny island is an issue and policitians need to grow a backbone and start a debate.

    It is proposed that 3 resevoirs would be filled in to expand Heathrow, it just does not add up.

    Water processing should legally be "not for profit".

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    The Great Unwashed

    London grew and grew and thus creating the drought water price Hikes were put in place,this created theunderclass known as the great unwashed or dirty plebs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 241.

    Another example of a wonderful privatized utility working tirelessly for the benefit of the public..or working tirelessly for the benefit of it's shareholders? Still to pay the bill everyone can try and squeeze more money out of their employer...that's good for the country....hang its not!

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.

    The scientists and engineers have stated many, many times what is needed to address this dire issue.

    The CEO's and politicians have worked hard to ignore these statements many, many times to save a penny in the pound of profit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

    Heres a strange thing, didnt sucsessive governments sell off our water companies so the ownership, profits and how they are run are no longer the number one priority, that priority now being profit.
    As an environmentalist i enjoyed the support of south west water until they were sold - wonder why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 238.

    A lot of people on here seem to think it a good idea to ship water from the poor north to other, nicer, parts of the uk. When water was a national resource the infrastructure was greatly improved up here, kielder reservoir, we have no shortage. Why not move here?

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    223.satsig said "Instead of planning housing growth in the south east, encourage people to move and build houses in areas where there is plently of water."

    You'd have to get business & industry to start up or move there too or where will people work? They gravitate in larger numbers to the SE because that's where they can get a job. T'aint easy this national planning & making policy stuff. ;)

  • rate this

    Comment number 236.

    Many, if not most of us, have visited countries with far less rainfall than the UK. Yet water arrives at the taps in, usually, cheap unlimited quantities. Why ? Investment in the infrastructure of a public service. Here we experience significant average rainfall yet suffer drought & a ban on expensive water usage. Why ? Shareholder value of private enterprise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.

    Another second rate service with first class bills.

    Buy a house in France and you pay less than £1500 per year for all rates, water, electricity, services etc - why do we pay so much?

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.

    Last year I reported a massive leak from a pipe that ran under a road bridge over the canal. It took 8 days before the leak was fixed. Can't think why there was a delay. No road to dig up, just some insulation to remove to gain access to the pipe.
    The water loss must have been millions of gallons.

    I reckon that they just don't care. The customer will always have to pay regardless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    After the drought of 1976, those calling for a integrated water grid to enable water to be pumped from drought-free areas to those affected by drought were told, there was no need, these events only occur every 150 yrs or so.
    Security of supply was then left to market forces after the utility sell off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    People should remember there is only one ultimate source of money for the water companies and that's the consumer. Any other source of funds has to be paid by revenue raised from the consumer so its cheaper in the long run do it direct from the consumer and get the consumer to pay the lumps and bumps as they occur. Of course the banks would have you beleive something different.

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    182. Yes and because they built everything so well we are surviving on their infrastructure now. Which again begs the question, why can´t we?

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    Lokks like the Great British public is about to get a hefty rise in Water bills.
    We are the mugs of Europe!

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    Translation: "Our attempts to use a drought as an excuse to rise prices did not work.

    Subsequently we will instead be using this report.

    Price rises incoming, but whatever you do don't pay attention to our record profits over the last 5 years...."

    Seems about right. Nice of the news to continually spread the word on behalf of these big firms.


Page 7 of 19


More Science & Environment stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.