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 354.

    This is what happens when a public utility becomes privatised, returns on shares becomes a priority instead of providing a service that is essential to the public.
    Charges rise whilst performance plummets.

  • 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 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 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

    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.


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