Science & Environment

UK water resources 'left to weather's mercy'

Flood waters of the Ouse
Image caption The coalition says allowing conditions to lurch between drought and flooding is causing significant damage

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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