Water

West Sussex County Times Article

This April has been the wettest on record.  We've seen flooding in parts of the country - yet at the same time a hosepipe ban is in place because the South East, like much of the country, is officially in a state of drought.  As some commentators have joked, it's the wettest drought on record. 

It's true that for the last two years we've had remarkably little rain, and that some parts of the South East have less water per person than parts of Africa, but around the country we should have plenty to spare.

Whilst in Sussex the water supplies under the South Downs might be at historic lows, in the north of the country reservoir levels are pretty robust.  In a country renowned for its rainfall, droughts are always local affairs.

Because of this obvious disparity many people have been talking about finding ways to move water from the north to the south.  After all, if the Romans found ways to transport water with their aqueducts, couldn't we?  We have national grids for gas and electricity, so why not water?

In fact a physical grid would be incredibly expensive - water is heavy to move - but there may be other ways. 

In the past I've talked about creating a virtual water grid.  Water companies should not behave like regional monopolies, but should instead be incentivised to trade supplies with each other.  That way companies with more water could push it into the system to help relieve the impact of drought.

We all need to value water more - but not just consumers.  The water companies need to start valuing water, too.  This would also see them take much stronger action to deal with leaks.

At the same time as our area faces drought, with a hosepipe ban enforced, we have seen the average Southern Water bill increase by 8 per cent this year.  If companies cannot adequately supply water, what justification do they have for continually increasing bills?  I will be writing to the Chief Executive ahead of a meeting with him about these issues next month, and I will expect good answers.


Published

3 May 2012

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