This drought is now wet enough for some

 

         Some parts of the water industry eventually lifted their ban on hosepipe use this week, after weeks of forecast and predictable downpours. (See this blog about a very wet drought on May 24th “Water,water, everywhere…”).

         On cue, I met representatives of the industry and the regulators this week to hear about the opportunities for more competition. We heard how more extensive competition for the supply of water to business in Scotland has had favourable results. Costs have been reduced by £140 m overall, and prices are down  a little. Service quality and flexibility has improved substantially. Those industries that want reliable supply now have more assurances that they will get the volumes they want when they want them. Those that need different quality standards or different additive patterns might now get them.  Above all, industry representatives said how different the approach of the water businesses now was. It used to be  take it or it leave, and prove the water industry wrong if you challenge its bills or its supply. Now  there is a more normal wish by the Scottish  water  industry  to help the customer and respond to customer needs.

       In England the government says it wishes to increase competition for business customers, but is still adamant that the poor old long suffering retail customer has to put up with a monopoly. Introducing lop sided competition means the regulator has to watch like a hawk to make sure the industry does not shift costs from the competitive side to the monopoly side in an effort to be more competitive where they need to be. It also means retail customers are cut off from the advantages of keener prices and more flexible service. Does anyone think a competitive business would keep customers on a hosepipe ban for so long during floods as the monopolies did? Does anyone think a competitive industry would charge as much, and insist on just one standard of water for all customers? Would a competitive industry use so much high quality drinking water to clean cars and flush down the drain?

          There are three things I do not like about some monopoly water companies. The first is the refusal to supply the amount of water customers want when they want it. A hosepipe ban in a period of high rainfall is no problem for gardeners, but it does stop you keeping cars, patios and other outdoor items clean, and prevents watering new plants if you happen to put them in when it is not raining.

          The second is the high and rising price. The regulators seem to be in cahoots with the industry, accepting the case for extra investment – which is needed – and then accepting it has to be funded by price rises rather than by more efficiency, and better use of assets. Competition would cut prices and boost efficiency.

        The third is the endless hectoring. The monopolists lecture customers, telling us we use too much, and telling us we need to cut back on use. They do not know how much many of us use, because we do not have individual meters. For all they know I might be very frugal with my water use, yet I still get the lecture. Water is the ultimate renewable resource. There is a water cycle.. We are not arguing about depleting some precious and scarce asset. We are talking about how much we use as the water  passes from clouds to sea.

           The government should go the whole hog. Introduce competition for all.  If it is, as some say, a natural monopoly, it will do no harm and make no change. If, as is the case, it is a potentially competitive induistry, we should see more supply and lower prices.

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96 Comments

  1. Posted June 17, 2012 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_competition_law

    .. and there was I thinking monopolies are illegal under EU law. Perhaps I should report the UK government to the relevant EU body?

    • Posted June 17, 2012 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      Printing money is illegal too!

    • Posted June 17, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      They’re not monopolies, John is using the term incorrectly. If there’s one company that controls 100% of an industry then it has a monopoly. If there’s several companies that control an industry it’s not a monopoly; though if they’re colluding it’s a cartel (also illegal).

      Reply: Many water companies are local monopolies for retail customers.

      • Posted June 17, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

        If you have no choice it’s a monopoly. We have no choice but Thames Water….and what a choice that is!

        zorro

        • Posted June 17, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

          Can I buy my water from Scotland or the North of England? Of course not.

          zorro

      • Posted June 18, 2012 at 9:05 am | Permalink

        Dear uanime5,

        What criteria did you use when choosing your water supplier?

        Was it price? quality of service?

        Or was there no other option?

      • Posted June 18, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

        You know what else constitutes a local monopoly; one company controlling the trains or motorways. Yet you didn’t object to either of these.

        Also to be considered a local monopoly it has to be impossible for another company to enter this market, otherwise it’s impossible to maintain 100% control of it.

        Reply: On the contrary, I do oppose other monopolies.

        • Posted June 19, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

          Actually John you recommended selling motorways to private companies and justified this by saying that as one company wouldn’t be allowed to own all the motorways they won’t have a monopoly. Yet when if comes to water management you oppose one supplier not having enough competition.

          So I’ll ask again how is one company owning a motorway, effectively a monopoly on who can travel on this road, any different from a water company having a local monopoly over supplying water?

          While you could make the argument that there are other roads that people could use that’s like saying someone doesn’t have to buy water from the local water company as they have access to bottled water and rain.

          Reply: Not so. The common theme is competition is betetr than monopoly, and you need to introdcue as much competitino as possible. The M40 competes with the M1 to the Midlands, the M3 and M4 compete for many places going west etc

          • Posted June 20, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

            No offence John, but your reply is a load of rubbish. uanime5 is right.

  2. Posted June 17, 2012 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    How do you expect any sensible pricing of water when most domestic users pay for it via a fixed charge that is nothing to do with water? Until metering is compulsory the public don’t have much incentive or interest in water issues when a house extension (with no water fittings) has more impact on their water bill than leaving a hosepipe running!

    • Posted June 17, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      What makes you think metering will have anything to do with the price of water?

      • Posted June 17, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

        Of course it does in reality Bazman. I am paying a lot less for the water we use under a metered system than I did with the exorbitany water rates – user pays.

        Zorro

        • Posted June 18, 2012 at 6:35 am | Permalink

          You obviously live alone or the property is not used oftenas it is not possible to make any financial saving with a meter if you have a garden and a family. Either that or you do not wash?

          • Posted June 18, 2012 at 10:03 am | Permalink

            John, Bazman is suggesting that I do not wash…..I do not have ‘les mains sales’……I am squeeky clean as is my wife and daughter still at home. Perhaps you should monitor excessive water usage?

            Zorro

  3. Posted June 17, 2012 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    If houses had a rain catching system then water bills could be substantially reduced and in many cases virtually eliminated. If you have a roof and guttering then half the system is in place already.

    • Posted June 17, 2012 at 6:52 am | Permalink

      Yes but it still needs cleaning, filtering, pumping, storing ….. this is usually less efficient and more costly (in time, equipment, maintenance) than an efficient water company. Especially as the distribution pipes are already in place.

      • Posted June 17, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

        @lifelogic
        “…but it still needs cleaning, filtering…”

        And you would need to add all the chemicals that are normally introduced into mains water for mass medication purposes.

        I hear that the government were even considering adding statins in the water supply.

    • Posted June 17, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      Would work up to a point, but as lifelogic points out water is no that expensive to justify the retro fit of water storage facilities on a property. (Yet) If it was I would have done it. Though still much more cheaper and not reliant on state subsidies that a future government could pull the plug on as in the case of solar power. My water meter bill is £500 a year with a meter and £400 without and unlimited usage.

    • Posted June 17, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      Most of your water bill is made up of standing charges that you still have to pay if you switch to a meter. Here in Yorkshire the sewage standing charge alone is over 140 quid per year- about 40% of the annual unmetered bill for a typical dwelling. If you live alone in a house with a low rateable value you might make a modest saving on a meter. Otherwise, forget it.

  4. Posted June 17, 2012 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    Indeed competition is needed. It need to avoid the confusion marketing that the electricity and gas industry has indulged in – which should also be controlled. A simple standard basis for quoting/charging (with no increases for a period after the switch) so comparisons are easy and prices are driven down. At the moment it just yet another back door tax and an extra cost lumped on people & industry making it very hard to compete.

    This on top of huge taxes, huge over regulation, high energy costs, high banking costs and all the rest.

    • Posted June 17, 2012 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      Just like the charging system used by cable and satellite TV companies? The next thing you will be telling us is SKY is not a monopoly. Get real.

      • Posted June 17, 2012 at 11:44 am | Permalink

        “The next thing you will be telling us is SKY is not a monopoly”

        It isn’t. I don’t have to pay Sky to receive satellite TV because there is FreeSat. I don’t have to use a satellite to receive TV pictures because I can receive a picture through a TV aerial. If the internet were better around here, or Virgin fancied running a cable there would be even more choice. If you want to stretch a point, there are postal services such as LoveFilm.

        Also, TV is not something that our species needs to support life, while water is. You might consider that bottled water is a suitable alternative, but for all practical measures, it isn’t. Likewise, owning a reservoir, well or borehole.

        So as I don’t think that Sky is good value for money, I simply don’t subscribe. Would be nice if the water bill fell and the service improved, though!

        • Posted June 18, 2012 at 6:38 am | Permalink

          Ho! Ho! Ho! Shows how little you know about SKY. I wonder how much SKY will put up the subscription charges for Virgin customers who do not what football? Ehh? What?

          • Posted June 18, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

            Neither TV or football is life-or-death, in spite of what Bill Shankley claimed. I’ll stop watching football and you stop using water – we’ll see who cracks first!

            I am aware that Sky have just paid lots of money to claim rights to broadcast football, and it goes some way to explain why I don’t want to take out a subscription.

            I also understand that BT have rights to broadcast the Premiership, so Sky don’t even have a monopoly over this small part of their output.

        • Posted June 18, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

          SKY’s football deal will also send beer prices to even more silly prices in the pubs.

  5. Posted June 17, 2012 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    I blame the BBC.

    • Posted June 17, 2012 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      For every problem to ever inflict mankind?

      • Posted June 17, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink

        Not quite every problem – but they certainly exacerbate a great many problems. Also they infect so many with the “BBC think” religion.

    • Posted June 17, 2012 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      They are indeed partly to blame – with misinformation about fake shortages and encouraging people to plant drought tolerant plants that are all now drowning – on their gardening programs.

    • Posted June 17, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      Slightly off topic, but it has been reported that the BBC won’t be covering the commemoration ceremony for Bomber Command next week. While Her Majesty the Queen will pay her respects to the 55,000 men who lost their lives so that we might be free, the BBC are to show Cash in the Attic!

      http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/327109/BBC-snubs-our-bomber-boys

      Looking at Britain today, with it’s leftie snubs of brave men and women, and pro-EU Heath-ites who want to give it all away to Germany for nothing, I bet those people are up there wondering if it was all worth it?

      One German woman who looked at her devastated city at the end of World War Two after the RAF had flattened it, uttered the rather ironic and very telling words, ‘If you had only given up in 1940, all of this could have been avoided.’

      I used to think that was crazy talk, but that is precisely what’s happening now, we’re giving it to them on a plate, and the BBC are as guilty as William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) in their treachery.

      A few days ago, one of John’s contributors urged us to sign the government E-petition to remove the licence fee. I’ll repeat that appeal. We need to stop this left-wing mouthpiece sooner, rather than later.

      Tad Davison

      Cambridge

  6. Posted June 17, 2012 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    You write of a noble and worthy endeavour, and more power to your elbow I say.

    So having warmed up on that one, now is the time to tackle something far more significant to growth, prosperity and all-round happiness – OFCOM, and the BT monopoly. And include BD(UK) to do the job properly.

    If you want to know how, I am available for consultation at very modest cost. And to complete the good news story, since I started writing this the rain has stopped and the sun has started to shine.

  7. Posted June 17, 2012 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    I never thought i would say it…….but what we need is water re-nationalised. Create an English water authority. Charge everyone by metered unit cost, only. He who uses most pays most.
    Water is a life essential, it should not be used for profit making. When you’ve done this. Turn your attention to the Gas and Electricity industry.

    • Posted June 17, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      @Old Albion

      I never thought I would hear myself agreeing with that, but I do.

    • Posted June 17, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      Two points:
      1. Where will the money come from to pay for the nationalisation?
      2. Do you seriously think that a state owned business will be more efficient and charge you less?
      We need more competition not less!

    • Posted June 17, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      Water meters are another poll tax as it rather depends what you use water for. If you use large amounts to water your expensive garden or for washing your large family and their clothes? Even in this day and age their is enough unwashed people. You will be giving them the excuse that soap and water really is to expensive! They either need a ticket or an incentive like a free bath or forcibly power washed in the town square. I’d pay to watch that.

    • Posted June 17, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

      Don’t forget what happened with most of the nationalised companies. The unions ruined most of them. Perhaps it is so much of a crisis that we could ban unionisation of these firms.

      • Posted June 19, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

        Which nationalised companies downfall was brought about by the unions? You have to think why many companies need unions as well. They ain’t going to share that is for sure, so how do you get a living wage and conditions? Just except what is on offer. Get another job. Really?

    • Posted June 18, 2012 at 6:46 am | Permalink

      Yes. So do I. It’s the one thing that should be nationalised. All profits to go back into the system to pay for upgrades, repairs and much needed reservoirs.

  8. Posted June 17, 2012 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    1. Remove the ability for water companies to use criminal law against people. It should be civil law only.

    2. Then if they have charged people for the right to use a hose and they can’t supply the service, they should be subject to civil penalties for failure to fulfill a contract.

    Meanwhile a question.

    Why have MPs exempted themselves from money laundering laws?

    Reply: I did not know we had – what’s your evidence for that?

    • Posted June 17, 2012 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      Well they do I understand from some tax rules, pension inflation indexes, and smoking and health and safely rules so why would they not from this.

      Simply because they can I assume if it is true.

    • Posted June 17, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Permalink
    • Posted June 17, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      From HMRC guidance as to your responsibilities under money laundering rules:

      http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/mlr/your-role/resposibilities.htm

      When to carry out enhanced due diligence

      In some situations you must carry out ‘enhanced due diligence’. These situations are:
      • When the customer isn’t physically present when you carry out identification checks.
      • When you enter into a business relationship with a ‘politically exposed person’. Typically, a politically exposed person is an overseas member of parliament, a head of state or government or a government minister. Note that a UK politician isn’t a politically exposed person.
      • Any other situation where there’s a higher risk of money laundering.

      So I guess MPs believe that the risk of any of their own being tempted to become involved in money laundering is so very very slight as not to be worthwhile guarding against …

      Reply: But it does not exempt UK MPs from the money laundering law!

    • Posted June 17, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      The ones I know of, from newspaper reports are the congestion charge, capital gains on second house, provision of an ‘expense account’ which allows one to recover funds spent on household goods’ – I am sure there are many more of which I am unaware.
      To be fair, all Labour’s fault, and some were repealed by the Tories, but they were voted for by parliament at some stage.

  9. Posted June 17, 2012 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    How well has competition worked between gas and electricity billing. Please refer to the water companies as billing companies after privatisation has taken place John. I cannot change from Anglican to North West water as I do not like the hardness and taste. Rising prices with profits made on rising material costs. What other industry can raise profits in this way and then blame the user for switching between companies and forcing up the prices by trying to avoid the thousands of tariffs deigned to confuse? Like musical chairs if you stay with one company you loose and have to pay the most. Billing the poorest users the most and disconnections at record levels. The private companies will not need a hosepipe ban because after they have scrounged enough money out of the state no household will be able to afford to use one and single people in daft flats will subsidise the rich owners of houses with large gardens whilst blaming the EU and the state for targets. Maybe like satellite and cable TV/internet companies the charges could be hidden in ‘bundles’ making the billing opaque and difficult to avoid charges for services little used?
    Who will be first in this billing and water mater fiasco that blames the system. A system they themselves created. The customer? The shareholder? Oh! Let me think. The insiders externalising costs onto society and pocketing large enough wages to compensate and remunerate to high cost of water to themselves is the most likely scenario given the past record of privatisation and letting the market rip. My gas electricity bill in 1999 was 23 pm it is now 80pm. Same usage. I must be somehow to blame. Oh yes! I use to much. Ram it.

  10. Posted June 17, 2012 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    So how in a competitive industry would use of drinking water for flushing loos and washing cars be discouraged. Its an age old problem. A different supply pipe to every household carrying “untreated water” (surely infeasible), use pricing to encourage further collection and use of greywater. The latter as been researched and technology made available, but take up, even on new build estates has been poor.

    • Posted June 17, 2012 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      @Gstan

      Grey water and rainwater collection is a good idea, which of course is why the government are not encouraging it.

      • Posted June 18, 2012 at 4:13 am | Permalink

        Perhaps if you have plenty of free time on your hands but you struggle to make it pay.

    • Posted June 17, 2012 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      In general it is better just to use treated water for both – the costs of separate supplies and grey water systems usually do not make much sense. Clean water does not have to be that expensive in the UK.

    • Posted June 17, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      Should the population be foolish enough to spend large amounts of their own cash on rainwater collection facilities in their own homes, as sure as night follows day sewage charges would rise and there would be no savings to be had,

      • Posted June 18, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink

        Just enact legislation that imposes wage caps (multiple of average salary) when hosepipe bans are put in place.Insist that each water co has a minimum storage per capita which is raised 10%, everytime it is breached.

        Move to a incremental rising tariff structure above a set minimally priced ration based on a family.

  11. Posted June 17, 2012 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    We need a change to the planning regulations. All new buildings should by law have a collection and storage system for rainwater that allows it to be used for flushing toilets, washing cars, watering gardens etc.

    This would not only help to solve the water shortage problems but also help the economy by reducing the energy used for cleaning and pumping the water currently used for thee purposes.

    • Posted June 18, 2012 at 4:14 am | Permalink

      Not a good idea, not cost effective in general and will make new property even more expensive.

      • Posted June 18, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

        The principle of grey water collection is sensible but the implementation too expensive. When I designed a simple collection tank for bathwater with a pump working without electrical input in order to pump it up and down to WCs, the regulatory costs made it impossible. The pump could not be patented as the principle had been used before and the filtration and treatment is too expensive and would require a BBA Cert , costing a fortune. All to flush a toilet!

        On the other hand, rainwater collection for gardens would help if metered and would not require regulation. We have been given a meter by order of the supplier and this will work out far more expensively for our type of use so rw collection for the garden collection is economical.

        Of course the companies like metering as it increases the turnover, with a device costing hundreds and an army of readers. The overall cost can be passed on to all ‘customers’. Just as they love the ratcheting up of water quality and sewerage, with no scientific evidence that there are any health benefits. Why the regulator always gives in to them is a puzzle. Maybe they lobby to make sure that a pushover environmentalist is always chosen, along with similar staff.

  12. Posted June 17, 2012 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    But when there are national grids and local main services, and pipes and cables to every house and business, the scope for competition is necessarily restricted.

    While I’m not unhappy with the tap water we get here, pumped up out of local boreholes in the chalk, given a free choice I’d prefer the soft water we had in Runcorn; but then if I really insisted on having that I’d have to have it brought down in tankers.

    Similarly I could pay for “green” electricity, but unless I had a separate direct connection to some “green” generation system most of what I got delivered down the mains would still be that awful planet-destroying “dirty” electricity, the only compensation being that it would normally be available whenever I wanted it rather than just when the wind was blowing, but not blowing too hard.

    • Posted June 18, 2012 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      Green electricity deals are nonesense. The overall electricity generation for the whole country is the same. The national system takes it from where it is available and distributes it as best it can to match load. If a customer thinks he or she is helping the planet by choosing a green tariff, it just means that someone else uses the balance of non-green. Of course, as it comes down the cable, it is all the same anyway. A nice marketing tool for the companies though and swallowed with pride by people with useless little wind generators on their city houses. Such as our glorious leader the PRM.

  13. Posted June 17, 2012 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    I see no mention of the EU influence on our water policies – why?

    The current agenda is coming entirely from the EU, and in particular from Commission Communication COM(2007) 414 final, on: “Addressing the challenge of water scarcity and droughts in the European Union”.

    This is the worst of all combinations, though. It involves the EU and climate change, with the Commission asserting that water scarcity and droughts have now emerged “as a major challenge” – and “climate change is expected to make matters worse”. Using that as its base, the EU has effectively taken over water management policy.

    “In order to come to grips with water scarcity and droughts”, says the commission, “the first priority is to move towards a water efficient and water-saving economy”. What the commission decided, the UK government has adopted.

    Then we see the climate change manta, for the commission goes on to tell us that: “Saving water also means saving energy, as extracting, transporting and treating water comes at a high energy cost”. Thus, the commission asserts that: “it is essential to improve water demand management”.

    • Posted June 18, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      By that logic it’s also essential stop losing so much water through leaky pipes as this will save vast amounts of water. Odd that the Government isn’t forcing water companies to do this.

  14. Posted June 17, 2012 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Is the EU involved ? Christopher Booker and Dr Richard North seem to think it is.

    Bernie.

  15. Posted June 17, 2012 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    We live in the North of England, where we have plenty of water. Kielder Reservoir was built to supply the industry on Teesside just at the time when that industry was declining. There is no reason for us to have water meters, unless we want them; that is the current situation.

    Parts of the country which regularly have shortages are an entirely different matter. I cannot understand why they still do not have meters as a matter of course.

    We would all benefit from competition in water supply. Here in the North, I am sure prices would fall. In the South, companies would be forced to provide a reliable service, rather than lazily falling back on edicts.

  16. Posted June 17, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    I do not see how real competition would work in the supply of water.

    With electricity the alternative supplier agrees a contract price with a generator company. That electricity is then supplied, via the national grid, to the alternative supplier’s customers.

    Where I live, Andover, Southern Water pumps the water straight out of the ground. How would an alternative supplier put water into that system. All it could try to do is bulk buy water at a lower price from Southern water, but why would the latter agree.

    Equally water supply is about sewerage, if Tesco supplies our water would Southern Water want to charge us for sewerage.

    The whole concept is artificial, simply providing income for others, such as comparison web site and meter reading companies, who will all demand their commission. Ultimately, of course, the consumer will pay more.

    Water should be metered and a regulator should fix the price.

  17. Posted June 17, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    So the problem is the Government wants to keep the same system, rather than follow the Scottish example. Well it’s clear where the problem lies.

    Anyone want to set up an epetition for a change in Government policy?

  18. Posted June 17, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Are they still charging Scouts for letting run off water from the roof of the scout hut fall into the drains?

  19. Posted June 17, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Please allow me, as a metered Scotsman thanks to ‘Wee, Fat, Eck, to respond to as many of the posts that I can be bothered to respond to?

    As a ‘small business’ – a Country House Hotel with only 10 rooms – I was encouraged, nay forced, to be metered.

    The metering takes no account of the ‘transmission losses’. So I am in much the same position as you all are in England. I still have to pay for them and I see them just outside and even inside my property. So, Bazman, the metering has nothing to do with it, as you say. It is just another excuse for making me pay for leaks both inside & outside my property.

    Alan Hill, we do have water butts all over the place catching as much (free) rain water – used in the garden (my wife has four UK National Rose collections).

    Lifelogic: No this water needs nothing. It is simply poured on to the roses without change.

    For Public Servant, Bazman, & Lifelogic. It has bugger all to do with the BBC. Get real. (JR moderate me if you wish).

    • Posted June 17, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

      Are you paying more or less with metering? The crux of the problem. As a small businessman and a Scotsman you need to ram it.

      • Posted June 18, 2012 at 12:42 am | Permalink

        Much more than before…

      • Posted June 19, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

        Colonic irrigation?

    • Posted June 18, 2012 at 4:19 am | Permalink

      You perhaps have not heard the BBC propaganda on the water issue and global warming. Good to see that James Lovelock the Gaia priest has finally at 90+ come to his senses. I do not suppose the BBC will use him anymore now.

    • Posted June 18, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      At under .2p a litre you have to pour a lot on the roses to pay for the water butts and your time.

      • Posted June 18, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

        And the butts dry up after a weeks drought. Answered your point above about J.Lovelock but it’s been moderated.

  20. Posted June 17, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    The monopoly industry likes regulators because it saves them from having to listen to customers. And when there are complaints they can just blame the regulator, who it turn blames the government. Then some poor minister, like Theresa Villiers, spends her days answsering every tiny complaint and request whilst more highly paid executives in the industry simply sit pretty.

    The only way to regulate an industry properly is to have a free market and to get rid of the regulator.

  21. Posted June 17, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    My God what went so wrong with the English people that they allowed petty bureaucrats so much power! Now we will have every green nonce running our lives for eternity. An Arthur to wield Excaliber with kindly precision offing their bloody heads…

    • Posted June 18, 2012 at 4:19 am | Permalink

      Can they stop them and how?

  22. Posted June 17, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Another example of the need for an English government,this British government couldn`t care less about people living in England

  23. Posted June 17, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Entirely and completely predictable. Government regulates to prevent competition and provide monopoly, customers get bad deal. That is true of every regulated sector and every nationalized industry. Railways, health, education whatever. Government control = bad service.

    • Posted June 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      The free market often provides even worse service than Government regulated industries because directors are not accountable to the electorate in the same way MPs are.

  24. Posted June 17, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Metering is expensive to install and monitor, especially on a retrofit basis at the level of individual households. However, that does not mean it doesn’t have a role to play. Metering at the level of streets and at intervals along water mains might be rather more beneficial, in that it would allow leakage that amounts to 2.5bn litres per day in England and Wales to be monitored and dealt with.

    • Posted June 18, 2012 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      Indeed metering make no commercial sense in many cases.

  25. Posted June 17, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    There certainly seems to be plenty of profit in water.

    70,000 Olympic swimming pools of the stuff leaking away through broken pipes.

    A tiny fraction of profits being invested in repairs. Instead water companies take as much water as they want from the aquafers for the nominal price of a licence and causing huge environmental impact.

    It’s not competition that’s the problem – it’s the cheating of the public by ‘professionals’ and ineffective regulation.

    (My bill typically £700 per year metered)

    • Posted June 18, 2012 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      South West water have managed to fix the standard charge for a small house at over £1000 pa in Exeter. This was originally provided by the city waterworks an sewage farm at about £50 pa, say £150 after inflation.

    • Posted June 18, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      Outrageous…..we paid £220pa when daughter lived at home….since she is at university it’s now £160pa…..

      Zorro

      • Posted June 18, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

        I do not really see how a water bill can be so low on a meter are you including sewage charges? If you have two adults who shower every day and water the garden a bit in the summer there is no way it can be under £200. Add a child and the costs goes up even further. Also bear in mind that if you have house with three bedrooms you would drive down the resale price as families quite rightly run a mile from water meters. This is one of the reasons I was able to buy my house.

        • Posted June 19, 2012 at 7:52 am | Permalink

          I am not lying or blind, and do not work for Thames Water. We shower every day, use a washing machine and live in a two bed apartment.

          Zorro

        • Posted June 19, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

          Our local water company can now force any new house owner to have a meter. When my inlaws were here they had a flat and managed to have low metered charges. I realised that they were much more economical than families such as mine. The main problem is that modern women insist on washing everything before it has a chance to get dirty. My socks disappear in the morning before I have a chance to wear them. My knife disappears between cutting up the onions and the carrots. I am told off for not flushing the WC when the next beer filtration is due in 20 minutes. The plants are watered before it is due to rain. The rapid washing machine programme is illegal. Maybe if girls were still taught home economics?

          • Posted June 19, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

            They can have a tendency to put one thing in the washer and waste a whole cycle too or unnecessarily separate colours….

            zorro

      • Posted June 18, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

        they can charge for the long coastline and ridiculously high standards of sewage. The mackerel used to eat it for nothing. Admittedly, some outfalls were too close. SWW is now a major industry and employer. What next, nappies on cows?

  26. Posted June 17, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    As ever, no mention of the EU policy of deliberately creating water shortages that is the real cause of the problems recently experienced. Anyone reading this blog and hoping for anything approaching the truth is seriously deluded.

  27. Posted June 17, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    How about a post called, written as a Tory MP called ‘What is work?’ I’m sure it would be an interesting read. Ram it.

  28. Posted June 17, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    I agree wholeheartedly with what you say, John, but one important detail is missing above – individual homes use less than 8% of UK water supplies. The bulk goes to industry, farming and leaks. So if every person in the country used half they water they do now, we would still be using 96% of the water we are now.
    I am not arguing for farmers to use less (because we need the crops they produce) and I do not want to limit the use of water in manufacturing (because UK manufacturers keep getting it in the neck and most are treading a very thin line when it comes to profitability. I mention this because water is free, it falls from the sky. Our population keeps going up through immigration, we need more of every resource, yet the government in power over the last 20 years, Labour and Tory, has cancelled every single planned reservoir / water resource investment.
    Seen in the light of the EU directive that ‘governments should not increase capabilities for resources, but rather contain the demand, and the way that a perceived ‘water shortage’ 2 months ago was shortly followed by ‘consultants’ saying why we should be charged more for water ‘to penalise those who use too much’ and the whole privatised water system we have here, and it doesn’t take too much thought to accurately pinpoint a massive EU / government / utility conspiracy, with one loser – the UK taxpayer.

    • Posted June 18, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      1) The EU policy states that better water management should be considered before building additional reservoirs. It doesn’t outlaw reservoirs.

      2) One of the best ways to manage water more efficiently is to reduce the amount of leaks. Perhaps the Government should fine water companies based on how much water they lose in order to encourage these companies to repair their pipes.

  29. Posted June 18, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    You just don’t get it do you Mr Redwood? I thought you did from some of your previous comments, but it appears not.

    We live in the age of the quasi-religion of environmentalism wherein Mankind is destroying the Earth by his consumption (sin) and must be purged of his sin and punished for his excesses.

    Man must be stopped.

    Threats of Armageddon have failed and so taxation and covert rationing is the answer.

    More reservoirs, repairs to the pipework, a water grid and universal metering and of course competition would make sure there was enough water in the UK, but that is not the aim, the aim is not to provide adequate supplies of what we want, but to stop us using what we want and to use only what the clever people say we should.

    This is achieved by making supplies uncertain and expensive.

    The problem with your suggestion about competition is it will make water cheaper and more readily available. Why do you imagine they would take any notice of you?

    The same is true elsewhere. There is not mere mistaken obsession with wind and solar, they know these cannot supply the required energy, so inevitably prices will go up, not least because of taxes, but as they always do when demand outstrips supply.

    So we hear the constant drone of how Earth’s resources are finite and we cannot go on using them up at this rate. Water then is a scarce commodity and must be conserved – 80% of the Planet’s surface covered by it and the 100% recyclable thing… but it is “scarce”.

    Oil and gas “will run out” soon – yet almost on a weekly basis new deposits are found and new technology allows previously unavailable resources to be exploited.

    Have you not understood Mr Redwood that all the claims that “renewables” will become cheaper than fossil fuels relies entirely on the price of fossil fuels rising due to diminishing supply and taxation?

    Have you not understood the way to get us to use less water is to make it more scarce and expensive?

    It is not a logistics problem with energy and water, it is a policy problem.

    There is a Western World consensus of politicians bureaucrats and environmentalist activists and “charities” whose policy is, each for their own reasons and enrichment, to drive Mankind’s consumption to pre-industrial levels so he is no loner a “danger” to the Planet.

    That is what you should be talking to these people about Mr Redwood, their policy of destruction of Man’s advance and development, not sensible and practical problems how to solve the problem – they don’t want the problems solved.

  30. Posted June 18, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    I thought that when the water companies were privatised, they all had targets to improve the infrastructure and reduce leaks. I recently read that this is not the case.

    Also, some years ago, I was offered a “free” water meter when they were first introduced, with a suggestion that they would soon be compulsory and chargeable. I do not regret that decision, but why aren’t they compulsory – they might discourage wastage.

    • Posted June 18, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      Or encourage wastage by water companies.

  31. Posted June 19, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    What is the nature of the competition in Scotland. Is it alternative sources of supply or just competing retail organisations?

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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