Scarce water?

There’s plenty of rain in the UK in a typical year, and plenty of rivers that take the water back to the sea.
That does not mean we can relax about having an ample and good water supply. It still needs an industry to collect and process the water to the required standard, and to pipe it to homes and businesses on demand.

The authorities seem keener on regulating demand than on boosting supply. They rightly point out that some of the older pipes in the system are leaking, with quite high levels of suspected water loss in transmission. There are programmes to remedy this, but they can be very expensive as they usually entail digging up lots of roads and replacing miles of pipe, some of it still in good working condition. We need to decide a pace and realistic cost for moving to fewer leaks.

The authorities also like water meters. Charging people for what they use has its merits, and apparently produces a one off drop in water consumption as people adjust to the unit pricing of what they consume. Water meters help pin point leaking pipes on customer land and encourage water users to eliminate such waste by mending their own pipes.

When it comes to accepting that substantial rises in population requires more water, there remains a range of options. There is the possibility of cleaning up more waste water to a higher standard and re using it. There is the ability to put in desalination plants as there’s huge quantities of water all around us in the sea. That is not about to run out. There is the opportunity to extract more water from natural aquifers. Finally there is the obvious possibility of simply storing more of the water from rivers when they are running high or in flood for the times when there is little or no rain and the rivers are running low.

It is not good practice to extract large quantities of water from rivers when they are running low in hot weather, and not a good idea to run down supplies in natural aquifers too much. Given the great growth of population and water use in London and the south east I do think we need to plan for a substantial new reservoir to add to the flexibility of our system and to improve our resilience in dry times. I am writing in support of the proposal for a major reservoir near Abingdon, which I would like to go ahead sooner, not later. The new reservoir over its long life would provide cheaper water than desalination and would also provide a place to take excess water in times of flood.

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156 Comments

  1. Peter
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    Privatisation of a precious resource like water was clearly a mistake.

    Much of the industry is now in foreign hands. There has been no efficiency gains. Private companies have focussed on making as much profit as possible while neglecting their other responsibilities. This can be seen recently with the loss of supply in parts of the capital with people forced to use bottled water for unreasonable lengths of time. They are then offered derisory compensation.

    There is no way to run the water industry on the cheap.

    • Peter
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 5:43 am | Permalink

      Privatisation meant the notion of public service was lost forever. The same can be said about pride in the job.

      • Hope
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 9:05 am | Permalink

        You keep whinging…

        • Hope
          Posted March 15, 2018 at 9:11 am | Permalink

          I should say when it becomes clear to the masses that May and Co have failed to deliver Brexit and the UK is leaving in name only do not be surprised that your party will not get in power for decades if ever.

          No deal better than a bad deal she said. Phase one was a bad deal, her speeches deteriorating each time intending to change and condition our minds but having the opposite effect, we know she is capitulating and trying to hide it.

          If I were Trump I would not be making supportive noises after her public censure of him. I would tell her to get help from the EU!

      • frank salmon
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 11:52 am | Permalink

        Yep. That pride in the job led to huge under-investment in water supplies with chronic lack of maintenance…. Private monopolies need to be controlled but they are no worse than public monopolies.

        • Peter
          Posted March 15, 2018 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

          Under-investment has nothing whatsoever to do with pride in the job. Investment decisions were made by government not the workforce. As the governments own regulator, ofwat, admits :-

          “ there was little desire to provide any additional public finance to meet the demand for capital investment.”

        • jerry
          Posted March 15, 2018 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

          @frank salmon; Nonsense, public monopolies are not legally bound to make a profit, or at least try and make a profit, for their investors – admittedly far to many public monopolies made loses but that was due to poor management, something that could have been sorted out without the need to privatisation.

      • mancunius
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

        I can recall the doings (and non-doings) of the Water Board. Its officials’ notion of ‘public service’ was that the public was there to serve them, and their operations were secret and unaccountable. Joe Orton chose well when in his play ‘Loot’ he made Detective Inspector Truscott pretend to be an omnipotent officer of the Water Board in order to enter a property and search it without a search warrant. The Water Board did actually have that power.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      No. It is far better to put these businesses into far more efficient private ownership and let them make profits and innovate. But clearly the government has to do this in a sensible way and oversee them to ensure we do not get monopolies that can exploit customers.

      The government should be a good fair referee not another inefficient & dire state monopoly.

      • hefner
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

        Fair enough. How in the Thames Valley can I escape the monopoly of the private Thames Water? Please let me know.
        Thames Valley, which seems unable to maintain the drains alongside roads and let huge puddles form every time we have rain and snow. Around the west side of the University of Reading, this dire situation has been going on for 15-20 years, with little work from time to time, which has never been able to cure the problem. State monopoly might be bad, private monopoly of utilities does not look any better, in fact worse as the price charged to customers has hugely increased.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted March 16, 2018 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

          It is the regulators job to ensure they perform. The government is failing to do that.

      • acorn
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 11:22 am | Permalink

        Consumers in England are paying £2.3bn more a year for their water and sewerage bills under the current privatised system than if the utility companies had remained in state ownership, according to research by the University of Greenwich.

        The nine English regional water and sewerage companies — three of which are listed on the stock market and six of which are owned privately — have invested no significant new shareholder equity but extracted nearly all of their post-tax profit as dividends, according to the Greenwich university report, which calculated the cost of privatisation to each household as over £100 a year.

        At the same time, the companies have built up a growing pile of debt to finance investments over the 28 years since the industry was privatised.
        (Gill Plimmer; FT June 6, 2017)

        • Edward2
          Posted March 15, 2018 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

          Odd research where they compare current prices compared to what they were plus some vague modelling claiming if they had remained under State ownership it might have been better.
          Not very academic imo

        • Lifelogic
          Posted March 16, 2018 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

          That again is the government/regulators fault if true.

      • Peter
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 11:41 am | Permalink

        Lifelogic,

        We know from experience that governments are not good at monitoring, or ‘refereeing’ if you prefer. Sometimes I suspect this is a case of wilful negligence. At other times they are too close to the organisations they are supposed to oversee.

        ‘Light touch financial regulation’ is a good example. Both main parties in the UK bear some responsibility for the consequence of this. We had the FSA the ‘Fundamentally Supine Authority’ and more recently the FCA ‘The Financial Cock-Up Authority’. Guilty companies and the directories just walked away from the wreckage and left the taxpayer to pick up the pieces.

        You also lose skills if you have chancers running things rather knowledgeable people for whom the industry is a lifetime’s work.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted March 16, 2018 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

          Some truth in this be if they cannot even regulate standards for a provider what chance have they got of actually running the service efficiently? They run nothing else competently.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

        Did Hammond really say in his spring statement:-

        “We choose to champion those who create the jobs and the wealth on which our prosperity and our public services both depend. Not to demonise them.”

        Complete and utter drivel. Both May and Hammond constantly demonise them, inconvenience them, attack their pensions, tax them to death (even on profits they have not made), force then to put wages up (thus destroying jobs and opportunities for people), endlessly increase the tax complexity and fines, have absurd employment laws, litigation out of control, restrictive planning, a lack of competitive banking provision, blocked roads, expensive religious energy, work place pensions absurdity, the apprentice tax nonsense, gender pay reporting drivel and much, much more.

        How can this appalling chancellor say this with a straight face?

        It seems he now want to lower the VAT threshold! Yet another tax increase for him to piss down the drain on Greencrap subsidies, HS2 and other lunacies.

        Who will rid us of this appalling EUphile & socialist chancellor?

      • Ed Mahony
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

        ‘Sorry, but you’re not thinking logically enough. Or deep enough (including creatively)’

        – apologies, didn’t mean to say that

        Basically, what i’m trying to say is that, in the long-run, you save the tax payer more money by a healthy private / public w0rk force. You need far more private than public, and public can’t be over-paid too much. But the public sector works well for 1. some women 2. as well as in some cases where private sector alone doesn’t work. Also, you need to be careful about foreigners owning your basic infrastructures – things such as water. Takes away from a sense of patriotism if they’re all owned by foreigners.

        • Ed Mahony
          Posted March 15, 2018 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

          And Sweden + Denmark with high state and high GDP compared to Japan and S. Korea is evidence of what i’m saying.

          (Also, in the recent UN Happiness Index 2017, Japan came 52nd and S. Korea 56 versus Sweden 10th and Denmark 2nd)

    • Peter Miller
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      After the last serious drought and hosepipe ban in SE England around a decade ago, there was a much trumpeted announcement to build 5 new reservoirs/dams, so ‘it could never happen again’.

      Of course, our foreign controlled water companies quietly shelved these plans in favour of their own profits.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        Sometime the odd rare hosepipe ban might be rather more sensible than a new reservoir. The thing to get right is the financial incentives for the providers fines for such bans and compensation for industry. This so the companies invest in reservoirs where this is sensible.

      • miami.mode
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

        PM. The regulator should have powers to limit dividends and debts as well as customer service.

    • A.Sedgwick
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      Exactly.

      A dreadful mistake.

      Water should be provided by the state within the overall tax structure.

      The effectiveness and quality of various privatisations is looking more than questionable e.g. railways, energy.

    • John
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

      Blah blah

      700,000 net immigration a year and mostly in South East England

      That’s the population of Scotland every 7.7 years.

      Now think of the infrastructure of Scotland, road, rail, power, electricity supply, water, gas, health service etc etc.

      Now think that being a member of the EU means we have to build the equivalent of the infrastructure in Scotland every 7 years just to stand still!

      What is your complaint again??

  2. Mark B
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    There is the ability to put in desalination plants as there’s huge quantities of water all around us in the sea.

    This is hugely expensive and should not be considered.

    I am writing in support of the proposal for a major reservoir near Abingdon, which I would like to go ahead sooner, not later. The new reservoir over its long life would provide cheaper water than desalination and would also provide a place to take excess water in times of flood.

    This should have been done at least a decade ago before the MASS immigration floodgates, pun intended, were, and are, left open.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      Indeed we do not need expensive and very energy consuming desalination plants on a wet island like the UK. Just some more storage reservoirs, sensible charging with water meters in most cases so people pay if they endlessly water their gardens, bathe or fill their swimming pools, and perhaps also re-use of grey water for loo flushing etc.

      We have needless to say not seen the Met office/BBC/Climate alarmists predictions of endless summer drought. Just a lack of reservoir provision and increases demand from a larger population.

      Most people seem to shower far too often anyway I find.

      • Bob
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        Maybe govt could offer a grant, or at the very least zero rated status for installing grey water systems.

        Rainwater storage tanks and water butts could also be zero rated.

        Or are such measures not allowed by the EU?

      • DaveK
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

        About a decade ago on some Climate Sceptic sites there were discussions on this very topic, including the shelving of at least 5 reservoir projects. One commentator pointed out that to increase certain things value you have to make them appear to be or even make them scarce, hosepipe bans etc. There were also in depth reports about the actual leakage from the water systems which were astounding. When I heard a water representative on TV recently blaming the one week cold snap for burst and leaking pipes I almost choked. Considering we are an island resting on hundreds of years worth of coal and gas and where the rainfall is a legendary topic of conversation it is gobsmacking that those in charge can get us to these straits (ditch the Act and get fracking). By the way, people on meters will pay through the nose for filling pools and watering gardens. In my experience (metered water for 28 years) it is the ones without meters who chuck it about willy nilly. I have a couple of water butts for my garden. As for de-salination, look to Australia for a salutary lesson. Why are “westernised” politicians so technically inept?

        • Lifelogic
          Posted March 16, 2018 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

          If they were technically competent they would probably want a solid, useful and productive job instead!

        • Bob
          Posted March 17, 2018 at 9:13 am | Permalink

          ” to increase certain things value you have to make them appear to be or even make them scarce”

          No, you just have to charge for usage. Our population has changed over the past 40 years and the sense of civic responsibility that once existed has greatly diminished. Those on a flat rate water charge take the attitude that people often do at an “all you can eat” buffet, they load their plates with far more than they need and it gets wasted.

    • APL
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      Mark B: “This is hugely expensive and should not be considered.”

      Rather than desalination, how about introducing filtered sea water. Sea water that has been filtered, not desalinated but piped to industrial or commercial buildings for cleaning or sewage disposal purposes.

      I agree, desalination with out cheap energy would be a crackingly expensive process.

      Of course, rather than a dedicated desalination plant, One might consider the waste heat of industrial processes used to desalinate water. I don’t know if evaporation is more efficient that osmosis.

      Our two remaining Steel furnaces might utilise their wast heat to produce fresh water that can then be sold to the water companies, a little like the feed in tariff with electricity.

      But of course the one thing John Redwood deliberately ignores when talking about supply constraints of fresh water supply, is immigration. It being impossible to plan for a given population twenty years down the line, if you have no idea what that population is likely to be.

      But that’s the modern Tory party, blinkered and blind to the results of their own policies.

      • APL
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 8:00 am | Permalink

        I believe this topic was discussed several years ago on this blog.

        One suggestion I made at the time, was to open old mine shafts, reline them, seal them all the way down, and use them as water storage facilities.

        If you have two shafts in the ground, three hundred feet deep, and twenty five feet in diameter, you have twenty three thousand cubic feet of water storage for the asking.

        If the column of water was pressurised with a ‘floating’ concrete block at the top, the water could be tapped from the bottom at almost no cost.

        Sure, it’s probably fairly expensive, but perhaps less so than drowning prime agricultural ground, just as we need to be growing more food for Brexit.

        • APL
          Posted March 15, 2018 at 8:10 am | Permalink

          ” you have twenty three thousand cubic feet of water storage for the asking.”

          Actually, more like 290,000 cubic feet of water storage.

          • acorn
            Posted March 15, 2018 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

            It’s the floating concrete that intrigues me. Water has a density of 63 lbs per cubic foot. Concrete 150 lbs/cuft. Even light structural concrete about 100 lbs/cuft. So when the concrete block is at the top of the column of water, would it not proceed downwards; at a rate decided by the ratio of the area of the shaft divided by the area of the concrete block; assuming the viscosity of the water remains constant.

            I seem to remember Gerard Hoffnung had a similar problem with a barrel of bricks in the “The Bricklayer’s Lament.”

          • APL
            Posted March 16, 2018 at 10:03 am | Permalink

            acorn: “It’s the floating concrete that intrigues me. ”

            So if you have a sealed column of water. With the concrete weight on top, the concrete won’t sink if the seal is good enough. I suppose it could be suspended on hydraulic rams. – It’s an engineering problem.

            The weight of the concrete would allow the water to be drawn from the base of the column, when needed.

            acorn: ” at a rate decided by the ratio of the area of the shaft divided by the area of the concrete block; ”

            It would sink. 🙂

            Yes. But only if the water below it can escape around the block. It can’t sink if the water can’t escape. It would just sit on top of the water – obviously you’d need some ‘wicked’ seal technology. The thing has to move in the cylinder but not permit water to flow past it. ( imagine it like a piston in a bore in a cylinder.).

            The whole purpose is to ‘pressurise’ the water such that you can draw it out of the shaft from the bottom with out having to pump it up.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted March 15, 2018 at 10:09 am | Permalink

          Dear APL–Why not reduce the enormous volumes of water being dumped continuously by rivers in to the sea by pumping river flow back up to the source and using it and storing it there, or even just putting it back in the river, instead of just throwing it away? The pumped water could go back up a pipe on the river bed and job done. Not, however, the sort of thing private companies are going to do so as things stand it won’t happen. Would need to be done for only a few rivers though.

          • APL
            Posted March 16, 2018 at 10:09 am | Permalink

            Leslie Singleton: “Why not reduce the enormous volumes of water being dumped continuously by rivers in to the sea by pumping river flow back up to the source and using it and storing it there, or even just putting it back in the river, instead of just throwing it away? ”

            I don’t know Leslie. But your proposal sounds a little too much like a perpetual motion machine. 🙂

            You are also, it seems to me, implying that the water flow in the rivers doesn’t fluctuate. Point being, we need the water just when it’s scarce. That is during a drought, and the rivers are running low.

            I’m suggesting an alternative use of redundant mine shafts, a resource we already have, which with a modicum of engineering savvy could be put to use, and perhaps lessen the need to drown prime agricultural land.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted March 15, 2018 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

          Would the water not get polluted? And are they in the right places. Pumping and moving water is expensive.

          • APL
            Posted March 16, 2018 at 10:13 am | Permalink

            Lifelogic: “Would the water not get polluted?”

            So the whole structure would take the form of a self contained cylinder the depth of the shaft. It would need to be water tight and permit the piston resting on the column of water to move the length of the cylinder.

            It might be a stainless steel structure within the actual shaft. So the reservoir within the cylinder would be separated from the actual shaft itself.

      • Mockbeggar
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

        Have you any idea how corrosive salt water is?

        • APL
          Posted March 15, 2018 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

          Mockbeggar: “Have you any idea how corrosive salt water is?”

          Fair cop, I hadn’t really considered it.

    • jerry
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      @Mark B; Immigration has little to do with the lack of investment by private companies, how has immigration prevented such companies from renewing pipes and thus stop their leaks!

      • NickC
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

        Jerry, Because of supply . . . . and demand. Officially there are 9 million people here not born in the UK. Looking at the NINos that’s a woeful underestimate. Perhaps 15m more people than the water companies expected makes rather a difference.

        • jerry
          Posted March 15, 2018 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

          @NickC; Oh do stop talking daft…!
          Nothing about the number of people living in the UK has anything about the wish and ability of a water company to dig a hole and mend a leaking pipe.

          The only way the UK population count could ever stop such activity is if there had been a mas migration from the UK and thus we have a lack of able bodied people to do such work.

          • APL
            Posted March 16, 2018 at 10:34 am | Permalink

            Jerry: “Nothing about the number of people living in the UK has anything about the wish and ability of a water company to dig a hole and mend a leaking pipe.”

            See , that illustrates why it’s not worth discussing a topic with you.

            Nick, gives you a perfectly reasonable, reasoned argument about supply of water, and the demand exceeding the projected demand by a very significant fraction of the population of the UK.

            Your reply doesn’t address that point. You address a completely different point.

            The fact that there are leaks that don’t get repaired in a timely manner is a valid point. But it was irrelevant to Nick’s point.

            The water infrastructure we have today was designed with a particular population in mind, including capacity to account for leaking water mains. The population under Blair skyrocketed and continues to do so under the Tories.

            The margin for error ( leaking water pipes ) built into the system by the engineers in the ’50,’60, ’70 is no longer sufficient.

            Not because of the leaks, that was a factor included in the original designs, but because of the excessive and un-anticipated explosion in the population.

          • jerry
            Posted March 17, 2018 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

            @APL; See, that illustrates why it’s not worth discussing a topic with you, because you do not actually bother to read, never mind understand, what you are replying to – you just use this site as a vehicle for your anti migration rants.

            Had you actually bothered to read this part of the thread you would see that NickC replied to me, and like you his reply doesn’t address the point I raised with Mark B.

        • alan jutson
          Posted March 15, 2018 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

          Nick C

          The water companies know exactly how many people are in their area because they measure the volume of sewerage for treatment.

          Its so simple a method, you may be able to hide from officialdom in a room or a garden shed, but difficult to cheat nature for long..

          • jerry
            Posted March 15, 2018 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

            @alan jutson; An urban myth by the sounds of it…

            The mind boggles as to how they know all that from the from the volume of sewerage arriving for treatment, the only way would be to weight the solid content (once the water has been removed [1]) but even then what is the average, how would they extrapolate between one adult or three children! Nor does quantity of water sent into the water main actually tell the company much about how the water is been used, thus nothing about many people are in their area.

            [1] the average toilet uses 1 to 2 gallons of water per flush, but sewers receive greywater from showers, baths and sinks and can also receive rainfall from gutters and run-off via road drains etc

          • alan jutson
            Posted March 16, 2018 at 8:09 am | Permalink

            Jerry

            Take your point about children and adults, but on average a human body produces a reasonably steady amount over the course of a year, not by weight, but by volume.

            Thus the treatment works will know in percentage terms how much human waste has increased.
            Given that most people do not change their eating habits by much over the course of a year it is reasonable to assume their waste is also reasonably consistent over that period.

            Thus any major difference would have to be explained away by increasing or falling numbers.

            Perhaps a rather crude method of calculation, but I can see the logic in it.

            It was reported a year later, that Slough after further more detailed investigation, found another 6,000 people were actually living in their area, over and above their original figures.

          • Andy
            Posted March 16, 2018 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

            You are so paranoid about ‘foreigners’ that you advocate weighing sewage.

            Do you people realise you failed life?

          • jerry
            Posted March 17, 2018 at 6:57 am | Permalink

            @Andy; Horses for courses, after all some are so obsessed with CO2 and NO2 they advocate weighing or counting it.

            Always better to play the ball….

          • jerry
            Posted March 17, 2018 at 9:52 am | Permalink

            @alan jutson; Without getting to ‘down and dirty’ about this, how would they measure what is in such a volume of solid matter, what about sink waste that also gets washed down the sewer, what about road grit and such that also often gets washed into and through the drains despite all precautions.

            Even if this is not a myth, in my area whilst we have (had) a high number of EU migrants, each years we have a much higher influx of tourism, so would we have a problem with 6,000 undocumented migrants or just 6,000 undocumented tourists?…

      • Mark B
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

        jerry

        Strawman arguments. No one said anything about immigration and private companies not investing being a link.

        As NickC says; “Supply and demand”

        • jerry
          Posted March 15, 2018 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

          @Mark B; Yes, your comments were a strawman argument.

          “No one said anything about immigration”

          So you did not post the following;

          This should have been done at least a decade ago before the MASS immigration floodgates, pun intended, were, and are, left open.

    • Robert Betteridge
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      Mark B: “This is hugely expensive and should not be considered.”
      We’re waiting on technology – Nuclear fusion, electric & hydrogen cell vehicles.
      The world needs three things, water, Hydrogen & electricity.
      Pro temps it can manage those from solar and desalination.
      Off shore isn’t inhibited by endless planning disputes.
      There is a world-wide market, it just needs investment for development.

  3. sm
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    I now live in S Africa, a country that constantly struggles with insufficient water, and thought you may be interested to know some of the methods it uses to address this huge problem.

    Home owners with gardens, no matter how small, are encouraged to install water tanks to collect rainwater and even condensation that occurs quite lavishly in coastal areas. Each municipal area specifies how much water an individual should be allocated, and costs for use over that amount rise quite sharply. In Cape Town, which is suffering badly, new (domestic) meters are being installed that, in emergency conditions, can cut off supplies when the limit is reached.

    • eeyore
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      If JR will permit a slightly philosophical digression, I’d like to praise one of the truly great advances of our age – the plastic water pipe.

      Civilisation swims on water, but the problem of moving it about in bulk, cheaply and efficiently, baffled the greatest minds of the past. The Romans built mighty aqueducts to do the job – effective but hardly efficient. Medieval man hollowed out elm logs to provide a pitiful trickle. Victorian engineers poisoned whole cities with lead while saturating them with salt glazed stoneware.

      So all hail alkathene pipe – cheap as chips and leak free for centuries! It has cracked the problem once and for all, and deserves its place in the pantheon of mankind’s most benevolent inventions.

      • bigneil
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

        Never heard it called Alkathene before. Polyethelene, yes. Spent 40 years making that. Blue for water. Yellow or orange for gas.

      • Mockbeggar
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

        Except that there is a suggestion that plastic pipes interfere with hormones and reduces fertility.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 7:55 am | Permalink

      Indeed loads of solutions available – but we are no where near that position in the very wet UK. Perhaps having cheap water up to a certain normal use limit and then charging more for heavy use (especially in drought periods) might make some sense. Then using this money for some new storage reservoirs.

    • Bob
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      Several years ago when we were being warned of drought due to Global Warming I installed rainwater storage for about 400 gallons in my garden. It’s rarely been below 95% full.

      People on metered supply usually do what they can to avoid unnecessary usage, but those without meters tend to use water more liberally leaving their lawn sprinklers on for hours on end while they’re jet washing their patios.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 10:19 am | Permalink

        Dear Bob–And don’t forget the high pressure washers used by all those car washes –I have never understood the concept of washing the car and have never done it. Should be illegal. I have heard it said that the first thing people do when they buy even a brand new car once they get it home is wash it. Ridiculous if you think about it.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, did you fill you garden with drought loving plants as advised by the BBC’s weather “experts” and gardening programmes too!

    • matthu
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      You omit to mention that Cape Town is not suffering from a 1 in 100 year drought as they would have you believe. The sort of drought they are experiencing is fairly common particularly associated wotjh a La Nina event. (I used to live in Cape Town.)

      What they are suffering from is more to do with bad water management e.g. allowing the vineyards (which have greatly expanded in number in recent years) to use too much water.

      Now the government is being encouraged to make the most of a good opportunity to scare the population with thoughts of residents having to collect their own water and the army being called in to take over control of water distribution … typical climate alarmism but not well-grounded in fact.

      • sm
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

        matthu, I don’t know when you were last in CT; I was there in November and saw the effect of the drought. I also have friends living there who report from their everyday experiences.

        Undoubtedly, there has been mismanagement, and over-population, but do not underestimate also the fact that ultimately provision of water is down to the Government, ie the ANC, and that Cape Town (and the whole of the Western Province) is in the hands of the DA. The ANC has been doing all it can to discredit its political opponents, including denying the Province the financial resources it needs to handle the water situation.

    • hefner
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      As a follow-up to sm’s one, in Cape Town airport, in January people were encouraged to consume less than 85 l/person/day. From 1 February, this became 50 l/day/person and in most public places, people were encouraged only to flush for « No 2 ». Forecasts (but who trusts them here) are that water in CT is likely to be further restricted by mid-April.
      To put things in perspective, the average water consumption in Europe is 189 l/day/person, and on a somewhat related topics, both StHelena and Ascension Islands, being of volcanic origin (and by the way British territories) have all of their water from desalination.

      • APL
        Posted March 16, 2018 at 11:37 am | Permalink

        hefner: “Forecasts (but who trusts them here) are that water in CT is likely to be further restricted by mid-April.”

        And the cherry on top, South Africa is to amend its constitution so that White Farmers can be evicted without compensation.

        Zimbabwe, here South Africa comes!!

    • jerry
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

      @sm; “I now live in S Africa”

      So why are you so concerned about what happens in the UK, is it not slightly hypocritical to complain about the eurocrats telling our politicos and citizens how they should be living their lives when you are doing the very same in effect – of course perhaps you plan to returning to ‘Old Blighty’, find, but return first!

  4. jerry
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    The one thing the UK is not short of, even without significant rainfall, is water -by definition, we are an island!

    What we have been short of is investment and not just in repairs. There has been talk of a national water grid for decades but little joined up thinking within the industry nor with others (such as the British Waterways and its successor), there has been little or no investment in ‘greywater’ even in new build (using waste water from sinks, baths and showers) to then flush toilets, even though the technology is quite simple. There has been very little investment in desalination plants in the UK.

    So the only question is, why has there been such a woeful lack of investment, especially since our first real water shortage back in 1976?…

    • graham1946
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      Privatisation since 1989?

  5. Bryan Harris
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    It seems an obvious thing when you point it out JR – so why has there been no focus on this, given the volatility of our water supply…. Providing adequate reserves should have gone hand in hand with fixing the supply chain.

  6. Miss Brandreth-Jones
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    I simply cannot understand how such a precious resource is wasted. Our planet is bountiful with H2o . Do we really need great minds to create more storage space?

    • Bryan Harris
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      It seems we do – on past history

    • hefner
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

      Only 3% of the water on this planet is freshwater.

  7. Richard1
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    We’ve been hearing doom-laden prognoses of water shortage doom in the U.K. due to climate change for over 20years now. But it never quite seems to happen, despite the hysteria if we go, eg, for a couple of weeks without rain. It is clear that with better water management we are at no threat at all of global warming driven water shortage. Leftosts inclined to vote for Ridiculous Mr Corbyn should note that the perfomance of the water industry under privatisation is much better than it was when it was nationalised.

    • graham1946
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Its certainly much more expensive.

    • roger
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Global warming in the long term causes electricity and gas shortages not water.
      It leaves us beholden to countries at the other end of interconnectors that have sought to do us down over centuries and others who poison people in our streets.
      What in the next decade could possibly go wrong?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      Indeed how many years of it “not happening” before the alarmist “experts” actually admit they were talking drivel?

      More likely they will claim they have solved the non problem (by their very “renewable” expensive greencrap) I suppose!

  8. Sakara Gold
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    To put your idea into perspective, this from the gov.uk website:-

    1) The UK has over 416,175 kms of water mains and more than 393,460 kms of sewers – combined, that’s enough to stretch to the moon and back
    2) The UK delivers 16.6 billion litres of high-quality water every day to 63.9 million people
    3) The UK’s water and sewerage utilities provide some of the cleanest drinking water in the world. 99.97% of water samples in England and Wales met the Drinking Water Inspectorate’s standards in 2013
    4) Between 1995 and 2001, there was a 37% reduction in distribution losses in England and Wales.”

    Would the new reservoir that Thames Water want to build prevent flooding and increase water security? Apparently not. Any reservoir would have to be sited on flat land at the eastern end of the Upper Thames catchment area. Currently, most of the proposed reservoir site is productive arable farmland, which is very effective in allowing vegetation to take up surface water. Several thousand acres of farmland would be permanently lost to the proposed reservoir, thereby leading to considerable water run-off from its embankments.

    Possibly Thames Water would do better to continue to reduce water losses from it’s creaky old pipes and increase the amount of recycled water by building modern and larger sewage treatment works, than by making the flood situation worse for those living in the area of floodplain south of Marcham. Really, we should not have allowed housing development in known floodplain areas in the first place.

  9. alan jutson
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Whilst I do believe such necessary for life services such as water should be in Government hands and not private ownership, the fact is the system had been left to deteriorate to an appalling state before it was privatised, for which the present owners have been taking the blame.

    Clearly if we are to avoid water shortages in the future we need more storage capacity with interconnections from areas of high rain and little use.

    Thus the need for more reservoirs and transfer pipes.

    The simple question is, are the individual privately owned water companies up to the task of thinking Nationally, and are they willing to work together to provide such, at such massive cost !

    The Abingdon reservoir has been talked about for very many years to my knowledge, I guess it will be talked about for many more before action is taken.

    Why is it such projects like roads, water, rail, and power generation take so long to finalise.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      Do you want government only food too?

  10. Ian wragg
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Whilst you continue to increase the population by the size of the city of Nottingham each we will always struggle with utilities.
    Until recently there has been a moratorium on building reservoir capacity. The preferred route being to flood peoples homes in the lowlands.
    Now we are going to concrete over the green belt.
    Together with laughing boy Hammond wanting to scrap bronze coins I think you have a death wish.
    It is time someone challenged the Conservative title under the trade description act because you are the Vandal party.

    • Ian wragg
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      Each year.

  11. Adam
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Scarcity of water is yet again another consequence of too many people. If the population reduces, there may be adverse effects, yet so much of what is presently lacking, or restricts freedom, would be more easily accessible, eg: road space, housing, hospital beds, school places, queueing, prison space, green belt, pollution control, & more.

    • Andy
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      How do you propose reducing the population? Presumably you consider other people to be the problem – you are not part of the problem yourself?

      It’s like the motorist who complains daily of ‘traffic’. You are part of the problem!

      • Edward2
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

        Control immigration like many nations do
        Reduce immigration into the UK down to tens of thousands not hundreds of thousands.
        We’ve had the biggest increase in the population over the last 20 years in our history

      • Anonymous
        Posted March 16, 2018 at 3:18 am | Permalink

        The point of being a tax paying citizen is to be given privilege and protected status in one’s country.

        The covenant is that one may be expected to die for one’s country.

        When just about anyone, including criminals, can walk into this country and claim equal status then that covenant is broken and the country ceases to exist.

        Adam is not ‘part of the problem’ whereas 350,000 new arrivals a year during shortages clearly is.

      • Adam
        Posted March 16, 2018 at 7:41 am | Permalink

        I & couples who produce more than 2 offspring are the cause, especially if the trait is inherited.

        • Anonymous
          Posted March 16, 2018 at 9:44 am | Permalink

          The problem is that you no longer have a proper country and anyone can rock up and claim equal status to your children.

          • Adam
            Posted March 18, 2018 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

            Yes; uncontrolled immigration is the ongoing cause of overcrowding within the UK. It is most pronounced from those whose tendency is to produce many offspring, as overcrowding in their countries of origin may reveal.

            My own one third offspring, beyond the first 2 replacing 2 parents, does potentially increase the world population, yet is balanced by family members producing none, spanning centuries in the UK.

    • Dennis
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      Adam, yes of course you are right, this is obvious but no political party thinks about this. It has been obvious for 50 years or so. When the world population was around 2.5 billion in the 1950s was anyone crying out for population increase as desirable?

      • Adam
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

        Agreed in part, Dennis. Political parties probably do think about it, but tend to ignore & avoid acting. They are probably averse to the notion of urging birth control, or not welcoming others from overseas; afraid of generating opposition from noisy complainants.

        However, a few were alarmed in the 1950s of the scale of increase. Someone then calculated that the entire world population could stand side-by-side on the Isle of Wight, with each having enough space to outstretch both their arms without touching someone else! That audacious image may have quelled some objection then, but ever-nearing exponential growth since risks seizing control even from those who attempt, eventually, to reverse such calamity.

    • Ian wragg
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      Without unimited immigration there would be no growth in GDP. This would mean that the government would technically be presiding over a recession so they insist on an unsustainable rise in population. The same goes for borrowing.
      Remove both of these from the equation and we just might see some real growth in incomes and less pressure on public services.
      Don’t hold your breath.

  12. agricola
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    I have pointed out more than once in the past that the UK is sitting on a surplus of water in the Keilder reservoir. It should not be beyond the wit of man even if he is English to organise a national grid for water supply. We already have one for aviation fuel or we did in the 50s so I fail to see why this annual problem has not been resolved long ago. Perhaps it is because it gives politicians and newspapers something to talk about in the silly season.

    • graham1946
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      You identified the problem – it is not oil. It will never be done whist the system is fragmented. Probably in the end, just like electricity generation, the public will have to pay for this obvious solution of a water grid which can be handed to the privateers to make their profits on.

    • Yorkie
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      We don’t want any other regions water. Thanks. Ours makes the best chalk and lime free soft water tea and beer. The best beer in fact. and the best tea. Our kettles and washing machines work better. Even our women get their household chores done faster. 🙂

  13. Bob
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    What is the incentive for Thames water to deal with their leaking network?
    They lose 35 million litres per day through leaks.
    The just charge the customers and fill their pockets.
    If ever an industry was ripe for re-nationalisation, this is it.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      What on earth makes you think that government would do it better? Certainly nothing else is run very well by them look at the Nhs, defence procurement, passports, the tax system, council housing, roads….

      • Bob
        Posted March 16, 2018 at 9:05 am | Permalink

        That’s a fair point LL, but due to the monopolistic nature of public water supplies how does privatisation benefit customers when they can’t even switch suppliers?

  14. a-tracy
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    As a Country we are all doing things back to front, the infrastructure needs of all the thousands and thousands of new apartments in London should have been sorted out. The water companies certainly obtain enough money from each homeowner in Water Rates to pay for any extra storage many times over, why is this a government project other than to authorise the planning permission?

    When Government sold our essential services there must have been some requirement for them to provide for the extra capacity requirements?

    Abingdon is 60 miles outside of London isn’t there somewhere closer to the homes you need the water for?

    Reply Abingdon is close to the Thames which runs through London! Easy to get the water there carriage free!

    • Ken Moore
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      I doubt it the governments horizon is the next election . Utilities were sold of cheap and doubles all round for the ministers and city boys.

  15. agricola
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Never mind water supply. What about gas supply for power generation thanks to our dithering attitude to fracking our own gas we are left vulnerable to the whim of Russia to maintain power generation. For example last month. This failure is absolutely at the door of politicians, particularly those with a windmill fetish or ill informed nimbyism.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      Agricola. Windmill fetish? Speak to Nicola Sturgeon. She is obsessed with them.

      As for water apart from mending the leaking pipes, water meters tend to focus the mind. Too many people stand under showers for hours on end, particularly teenagers who are not paying the bills and too many hose pipes are left running overnight.

      • Martin
        Posted March 16, 2018 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

        Given Scotland has more wind than just about anywhere else what do you expect? Its been blowing a gale here for weeks with the odd quiet day. Even then the wind farms are still turning.

        Horses for courses.

        (P.S. todays reCaptcha check was cars.)

    • Mitchel
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      Russia also has control over a large part of the world’s fresh water reserves (Lake Baikal in Siberia alone is thought to account for c20% of world reserves).When the economics are right(they won’t be giving it away!),there are plans to supply the arrid regions of countries to it’s southern borders,particularly NE and NW China.

      And with all it’s other bountiful resources,it’s no wonder they recently erected a statue(the first ever) of Ivan the Terrible-the ruler who annexed Siberia for them!

    • Ken Moore
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      Already our power generation facilities are on their knees. Throw into the mix double digit increases in population, a pledge to ban petrol and diesel cars by 2030 and increasing scarcity of natural gas. Oh dear!

    • Dennis
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Apparently we get only 5% directly from Russia. The remaining comes via Europe and the recent past gas supply problem which will cost us dear was due to France stopping our supply to ensure their own.

      • Anonymous
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        Time to get fracking then, Dennis.

    • Rien Huizer
      Posted March 16, 2018 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      One way to produce more fresh water without building bigger/more reservoirs is to have desalinization plats (they have become much more efficient during the past 15 years) powered by off shore wind mills and feeding into existing reservoirs. If there is enough fresh water, suplus power goes to the grid and if there is not enough wind and too little water in the reservoirs, mains power could be used.

  16. The Prangwizard
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    I presume this is the same plan proposed at least ten years ago south west of Abingdon. Nimby opposition and weakness by approval authorities led to its being shelved. Otherwise it would have been completed by now.

    I dare say the same thing will happen this time. The same old arguments will be gone over, every crackpot will allowed their say, out of all proportion to their worth, the protesters wil be out and the police will express respect for their rights and do little to stop them and delay will follow delay and enquiry wil follow enquiry. And the newts, what will be done to save the poor newts? I have little faith it will go ahead this time either.

    A little bit of me hopes I am wrong and that there is someone in authority somewhere who will approve it quickly and regardless of the nonsense.

    • gregory martin
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      I suspect that the newts will be more than happy if asked

  17. Iain Moore
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Not scarce water, too many people, but our idiot British establishment are intent on stuffing a quart into a pint pot.

  18. Epikouros
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    I am a great believer as you are probably aware of leaving everything to the market place where the consumer and provider make all the decisions on how to efficiently satisfy supply and demand. Water as a commodity should be treated no differently despite the likes of McDonell believing differently. However you have highlighted problems that occur that not only applies to water but to things like electricity, gas and many other supply chains and routes. The inadequacies of the infrastructure which includes their layout, location, access and misuse. Which begs the question is this because of abuse by the private entrepreneur or because of the incompetence of government interfering with ill conceived planning, policies, rules and regulation.

    The answer should be unquestionably the latter but it has to be admitted that not all people; consumers or providers are honest so a degree of oversight is necessary and government is the only body that is appropriate for the task. However because we have to entrust government with this responsibility yet it is controlled(politicians/vested interests) and staffed(bureaucrats/professional experts) by people who are no more honest than the rest of us. As we cannot have layer upon layer of overseers (who will police the police. The voter maybe said to fulfil this task which is true in theory but not in the least in pratice) the more dishonest amongst them have used it for personal and political gain. Now it has become a body that seeks to control all aspects of our lives with considerable powers to enforce their views, opinions and dogmas whether we like them or not. Hence we end up with abominations like the EU and the total confusions and dysfunction that you have highlighted in your article today. That dysfunction was cause by government now you look to solve it with same body of people making the decisions and taking the actions. Really?

  19. mike fowle
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Christopher Booker wrote an article for the Global Warming Policy Foundation on 13th May 2012, in which he claimed that it was EU policy to discourage building new reservoirs, rather efforts should be focused on using water more efficiently. Thus Caroline Spelman then environment secretary vetoed the Abingdon project, saying there was “no immediate need” for new reservoir building. It was one of five major new reservoirs in the South of the country. The white paper Water for Life issued by Ms Spelman, just like the EU Communication of 2007, makes no mention of new reservoirs according to the article (I haven’t read either paper).

  20. jack Snell
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    “Water Water everywhere and all the boards did shrink
    Water Water everywhere and not a drop to drink”…not Elvis Presley

    We have plenty of water in this country- we just need to conserve it

    So fix the leaking pipes

    install more meters so that leaks can be located more quickly

    Penalise those wasting water/ anyone wasting for whatever reason

    Locate suitable sites and build more reservoirs to serve the population centres

    Bring it all back into public ownership/ because there are some things that are just too precious, like the fresh air we breathe.

    • Edward2
      Posted March 16, 2018 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      Would you do the same with the supply of food?

  21. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Off-topic, JR, I’ve just been watching some of the Commons questions on exiting the EU and I have to say that I felt a bit sorry for Suella Fernandez as she made a brave effort to defend the government’s present policy on the Irish border.

    I repeat that this is a minor, almost trivial, problem which the government has allowed to be blown out of all proportion by those who wish to frustrate Brexit.

    It need not affect the movement of persons, except insofar as it may be necessary to make some small adjustments to the longstanding agreement on the Common Travel Area of the UK and Ireland. It does not affect services insofar as services will not in any case be subject to any checks at the land border, and nor will it affect the movement of capital unless it is actually bundles of banknotes.

    The core of the problem is the present unhindered movement across the land border into the Irish Republic of goods worth about £2.4 billion, or about 0.1% of UK GDP, and also a similar tiny fraction of the total imports into the EU across its external borders.

    A tiny inflow, just a trickle, of goods which is not checked at the border now because it is not seen as a threat to the integrity of the EU Single Market while the UK is still in the EU and has in place and effectively enforces the relevant Single Market legislation.

    And which would no more need to be checked at the border in the future after we have left the EU, if the EU was just prepared to accept the word of the UK government that it would help to defend the integrity of the EU Single Market by continuing to enforce similar UK legislation with respect to all goods exported across the Irish border.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      During those questions David Davis referred Keir Starmer to the words of a former Labour leader who he might respect more than the present Labour leader.

      This is what it was about:

      http://www.euronews.com/2018/03/01/tony-blair-on-britain-s-brexit-dilemma-

      “Remainer Tony Blair says ‘soft’ Brexit is not a sensible option”

      “… if you don’t have Northern Ireland in the Customs Union there is going to be a hard border with the Republic of Ireland … even if you have them in the Customs Union there is still going to be border problems … The only safe way to avoid those problems is to have Northern Ireland in the single market but then you’re gonna have to have Britain in the single market.”

      This all stems from the original, politically driven, crackpot notion that to have a part of our economy (about 12%) and some of our businesses (about 6%) involved in freely exporting to the EU we must have 100% of our economy and 100% of our businesses subject to EU law. Apart from their disloyalty I can think of no reason why on earth our politicians should ever have agreed to that.

      Note that none of our other international trading partners has yet insisted that if we want to trade easily with them then we must automatically apply all of their national laws within our own country, and moreover treat them as superior to laws passed by our own national legislature; and quite apart from the matter of our national sovereignty that’s just as well in practical terms given the extensive scope for clashes if all the laws of 150 0dd different countries were to be simultaneously applied within the same territory …

    • APL
      Posted March 16, 2018 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      Denis Cooper: “I repeat that this is a minor, almost trivial, problem which the government has allowed to be blown out of all proportion by those who wish to frustrate Brexit.”

      Yes, and it’s more of a pressing problem for the Republic. Let them work it out.

  22. Alison
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Good morning, Yes, definitely create a new reservoir. Water is NOT plentiful on the planet, and weather is fickle. Access to/control over water has been the cause of many wars and disputes .. just look at the Middle East. Or note the drought in southern France last year.

    I am shocked at how profligate people who I assume have had no experience of drought are with water. If water is to be managed by private companies, they should be UK-owned companies.

    On the subject of waters, the Express reports that Labour MEPs voted against an amendment which ‘would have given the UK control over who can fish in British waters’.
    https://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/931998/brexit-news-labour-party-vote-european-parliament-uk-fishing
    Outrageous. Not the sort of amendment we’d expect to be passed, but…

  23. Prigger
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    LIVE BBC 11.35am 15/03/2018 Gavin Williamson Defence Secretary UK “Russia should shut up and go away”
    Not ………..exactly……..what the UNSC, nor “our allies” said for the world to hear only hours ago.
    Mrs May and her “Defence” Secretary and Boris should resign immediately.

    • A different Simon
      Posted March 16, 2018 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      This has more than a whiff of WMD about it .

      The difference is that this time it WILL bring HM Govt down if they are caught to have sexed it up and wrongly blamed Russia .

      I don’t think too many people will shed tears if that does happen . They can see that Corbyn has proved more statesman like .

      TM needs to be replaced by J.R.M. asap and an apology issued to Russia .

  24. Flash Goredan
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    B/F Williamson is saying our army is going to be inoculated for Anthrax. Churchill developed it on a Scottish island near Ullapool in WW2 It took decades to rid the island of it. Not used as it would have wiped out most of the livestock in Europe never mind the world within two years, let alone humans.

  25. Andy
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Privatised utilities act in the interests of their shareholders – and not of custsomers and definitely not of wider society.

    Thames Water has been digging up London for decades. Yes pipes still burst regularly, homes are regularly flooded, sewage is regularly spewed in to the river and our system is still reliant on Victorian infrastructure. Thames Water managed to pay more than £1bn in dividends in the decade up to 2016.

    I have no qualms with people making money when things are done well. But the hard-right Tory pensioners sold off all of our assets to their rich foreign friends – and we are left with lousy services.

    An irony of Brexit is that we apparently want other countries to open up their utilities and infrastructure to us. But this will not happen as we can offer nothing in return – as the Tories already sold it all off decades ago.

    • Edward2
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

      They won’t satisfy their shareholders if they don’t satisfy their customers.

  26. forthurst
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    The EU is responsible for the lack of sanity involved in water management. According to the EU, our water management is their business which it enforces through the Dept for Environment etc. The EU doesn’t like reservoirs which they claim are created by damming rivers and stopping the free movement of fish; the EU likes free movement not least of people who use lots of water. The EU believes that conserving water will SavethePlanet, hence the need for more and more inefficient WC flushing.

    Once we leave the EU (or should I say if we ever?) there should be a serious review of the whole issue of water management, with the purpose of removing unnecessary constraints on sensible and efficient conservation of water and adjoining land: let’s stop treating dredged river sludge as toxic waste and stop putting the illusionary interests of lower animals who are mostly able to look after themselves as long as they are not being poisoned, before people.

  27. In the Continent
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    The UK is known throughout the world as “rainy”. Our diplomatic service, needs to put the foreigners right. Islington was instance is but a sun-baked desert apart from one allotment.
    Unfortunately the Russians are unlikely to hear about our sunshine due to Tory Cabinet abject stupidity and incompetence

  28. Mockbeggar
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Since London stopped manufacturing on a large scale (breweries etc.), we were told the water table in London is rising to the point where there were worries that it would flood the tube system and the basement of the London Library among other things. Has that fear now gone away? If not why cannot Thames Water extract water from under London?

  29. Andy
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Incidentally – I notice that Unilever has given Brexit Britain a big boost by moving its head office to Rotterdam! Of course everyone has to claim Brexit had nothing to do with it but it is evident it did.

    Still, it’s not as though isolated Little Britain needs all the friends it can get in the world right now. (Oops.).

    Reply Yes, Unilever gave UK a big boost by announcing £1bn extra investment and main centre for two of its main divisions. Said in interview nothing to do with Brexit!

    • Bandy Andy
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      Big firms went before Brexit – indeed because it was easy to relocate in the EU.

    • Richard1
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      The contemptuous attitude to their Country of some continuity Remainers such as Andy is revealing – “Little Britain…needing friends”. Many much smaller countries are content to be independent, are peaceful and prosperous, and do not feel a need to merge into a federal union with neighbours. Switzerland (9m), Singapore (5m), New Zealand (3m) are examples.

      • Andy
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

        We are an independent country. And were prosperous – until you voted to make us all poorer.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 16, 2018 at 8:12 am | Permalink

          There were recessions during our years in the EU and many lost their jobs and standards of living fell.
          How do you know what the future holds for those still in the EU?
          Millions unemployed in the EU today.

        • Anonymous
          Posted March 16, 2018 at 9:46 am | Permalink

          Nope. Not independant.

        • APL
          Posted March 17, 2018 at 10:45 am | Permalink

          Andy: “We are an independent country. ”

          Afraid Andy, that’s untrue.

          Andy: “And were prosperous”

          And that’s untrue too. Government policy to make you poorer by 2-3% each year. Smother enterprise with red tape and taxes.

          Oh and ‘diversity is making us stronger’, that’s not true either. It seems the Somali’s are getting on the rape game act with two news items in the press one in Manchester, and another in Bristol. Preyed on children in local authority care. Another thing the government does badly.

          Andy: “until you voted to make us all poorer.”

          Of course you did vote, didn’t you?

    • Zorro
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

      Oh dear Andy, you are truly tragic 😂

      zorro

  30. Anonymous
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    With the Russian situation I’m surprised today’s post is not about gas. We have no choice now.

    – We need to get fracking.

    – We need to build our military back up

    We can no longer afford to subsidise people who make all the wrong lifestyle choices and whose standard of living is now in the hands of a tough little Russian chap.

  31. Prigger
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    The Russian RTX Index..liked by foreign investors and the more internal Russian IMOEX Index do not as yet appeared to have reacted at all to the UK Tory, SNP, LibDem threats to the Russian economy. They must have watched the Emergency UNEC meeting called by the said actors too or they are all Corbynistas which, is looking increasingly likely.

    • Mitchel
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps “investors” have learnt;we bought the Russian market heavily when it-and the ruble-nosedived during the week after Crimea was returned to the Motherland.We made a large profit,selling it(too soon!) a year or so later.

    • Richard1
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      the strong support given to the UK Govt by our major allies over the Russian attack shows the nonsense of your line of argument.

      • Richard1
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

        This was intended as a reply to Andy above

  32. Anonymous
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Use lack of water as a limiter on population levels.

    You keep building houses, houses, houses but NO INFRASTRUCTURE.

    This has been the coward’s way out of population control but lack of water on this rainy island cannot be glossed over or hidden.

    Leave the reservoirs as they are. Their capacity is perfectly good for the sensible levels of population that this country once had. The same for housing. The Boomers will be dead soon enough and there will be plenty of spare space too.

  33. lojolondon
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    You are absolutely correct, John, we need to build up our reserves, and also install the pipes necessary to move water around the country as required. But far more important, stop 600,000 people migrating into the UK every year and we will have plenty of water. And plenty of energy. And plenty of schools. And plenty of rail capacity. And plenty of NHS resources. etc., etc.

    • Prigger
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      We could have Sunday coach trips from dry areas with a discount for OAPs, to more liquid areas. With photo IDs making sure no-one was supping for nothing

    • Iain Gill
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

      the numbers are far higher than that in reality, the govt figures are just guesses and miss lots of immigrants out

    • E Justice
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

      Please don’t mention migration it’s the Elephant in the room .We can do without water, energy and NHS resources we can do without everything but we must keep letting thousands in the country unforgivable. The Nation has been silenced for fear of being called racist. but it is a price worth paying according to Mr Blair A plague on all their houses

  34. Helen Smith
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    At last someone is addressing this problem.

    Where I live, Sussex, the growth in housing is scary, my village has doubled in size in 30 years, every house has 1-2 cars that need to be kept clean, washing machines, dishwashers etc., and gone are the days when people bathed once a week! After the drought of 1976 a new reservoir was built, but non since.

    We have be compelled to have water meters, which are a back door way of rationing supplies, the whole thing is a disgrace, no thought given to water supply at all, just existing supply eeked out, much the same as the road network, we are all expected to sit in traffic jams whenever we want to go anywhere or pay tolls or congestion charges.

    Time to call a halt to the expansion of housing in the South East.

  35. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Off-topic, again, Jack Straw, a politician whose party so cleverly presided over a 6.3% drop in GDP over a period of just twelve months:

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/9826379/GDP-figures-UK-economy-shrinks-as-it-happened.html

    has been on TV complaining that while it is true the UK economy has carried on growing since the EU referendum, contrary to the predictions of unmitigated economic disaster if we as much as voted to leave, the growth rate has been only about 1.5% a year rather than the 2.0% to 2.5% a year which had been the trend for years beforehand.

    Well, here’s the truth:

    https://tradingeconomics.com/united-kingdom/gdp-growth-annual

    “GDP Annual Growth Rate in the United Kingdom averaged 2.45 percent from 1956 until 2017, reaching an all time high of 9.70 percent in the first quarter of 1973 and a record low of -5.90 percent in the first quarter of 2009”

    That record low being when the Labour government was in power and had recklessly got itself into the horrible position where it was having to borrow a quarter of all the money it was spending, acorn; the growth rate then recovered until it peaked at 3.3% at the end of 2014, eighteen months BEFORE the EU referendum was held; after which peak it started on a declining trend which has continued WITHOUT THE REFERENDUM HAVING HAD ANY CLEAR IMPACT ONE WAY OR THE OTHER.

    As I have suggested before it is necessary to take into account pre-existing trends before jumping to any conclusions about the effects of the referendum result.

  36. Mick
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Just been watching your fellow mp Soubry giving her usual garbage in the European affairs debate, what is this woman still doing in your party, making out see is representing her constituents, she is a complete remoaner saying that 17.4million didn’t know what we were voting for, try telling that to your constituents now , have another vote in your town I bet money on it you would be out on your ear, you like most of Westminster got elected to carry out the wishes of the 52% and not the 48%, if you cannot carry out that simple task then do the right thing and resign your position so a true leaver can be put into place, oh no you’ll not do that because you know you wouldn’t be re-elected along with all the others

  37. Iain Gill
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    It is completely bonkers that reservoirs can run dry or nearly dry in this country in a wet winter, simply from leakage from pipes with minimal ice damage.

    We need much more hard work on pipe maintenance and updates, and resilience (multi path for main routes etc)

    We also need to link reservoirs in many cases with the basics of interconnections to avoid having to refill empty ones with road tankers.

  38. mancunius
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    “people adjust to the unit pricing of what they consume.”

    And the unit pricing is decided, not by the cost of provision, but by the automatic annual percentage profit the regulator agrees in advance, plus the social costs of providing free or low-cost water for the surprisingly large numbers of folk who allegedly ‘can’t afford’ to pay for it, and whom the government forces the water companies to subsidise.
    As a Thames Water spokesman openly said on a radio feature a few years back – ‘This is a zero sum – whatever social discounts we give, it means the other full-price customers will have to pay more.’ And if you delve into it, the number of discounts is legion. Quite an incentive to be, or pretend to be, poverty-stricken.

  39. Eh?
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    I hear the LibDems are advocating drinking bottled water across Europe to ease the water shortage.

  40. Adam
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    If the greatest risk to human survival is lack of access to drinking water, a local solution might be easier than shipping heavy volumes across continents.

    A typical human may be 60% water. Thames Water have talented engineers, so one may later recycle routine excretion into drinking quality via a rucksack purifier, made available from B&Q for under £12. Or perhaps not.

  41. Leanin on a lamppost
    Posted March 15, 2018 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    ” Sky News reports online 23.50 today 15 03 2018
    “Gavin Williamson raises the prospect of a new Cold War with Moscow, warning: “It’s feeling exceptionally chilly at the moment.”
    On hearing that I bet Andrey Nikolaevich Serdyukov (Russian: Андрей Николаевич Сердюков )Russian Armed Forces Colonel General and Commander of the Russian Airborne Troops is having a hot flush and in a real tiz

  42. Ron Olden
    Posted March 17, 2018 at 3:45 am | Permalink

    Huge amounts of water gets lost in mains leaks and in evaporation from reservoirs during sunny days.

    Proposed “geo-engineering” techniques for reducing reservoir evaporation in hot climates where rainfall is in decline, include covering surface water with thin films of organic compounds, reflective plastics, or extremely lightweight shades. This must be far cheaper than building a new reservoir.

    Other suggestions have included moving reservoir water underground into new storage areas or aquifers, or relocating or building new storage reservoirs at higher elevations where less evaporation occurs.

    One simple way of encouraging Water Companies to address this problem and reduce leaks, is to abolish Corporation Tax, (and even Employers NIC), on Water Companies and to tax them instead, based upon the amount of water they lose.

    I believe this is called a ‘market solution’.

  • 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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