Water management is a Cinderella subject for Manifesto writers that should in 2015 come to the political ball. We both have too much of it at time of flood, and too little of it in times of drought. There is nothing new about this. All my lifetime we have alternated between difficult floods in winter and water rationing in hot summers. Some say this is going to get worse. That’s even more reason for us to get better at preventing these extremes of outcome.
Fortunately solving the one can help solve the other. If we had more areas of ground where we could capture and hold water during times of flood, we could have more reservoir capacity for times of shortage. The water industry is reluctant to build more reservoir capacity to avoid shortages in rare hot years. It takes this view partly because it always has in mind very large units, and partly because the regulatory system makes financing such projects difficult.
Maybe we need a series of smaller projects attached to rivers which are flood prone, capable of taking water in in wet periods and putting it into the water system at times of shortage. Some of this could be part of the new housing projects around the country, as housebuilding adds to the risk of flash flooding as more of the land that absorbs water naturally is put under tarmac and concrete. Over to you, Environment Agency.