I am glad there is to be a Parliamentary investigation into the state of our water supply and flood defences.
Some say we need it to deal with the consequences of global warming. The predictions of climate change theorists tell us that we will need to store more water for drinking and other uses during the wet periods to cater with the drier periods. They also warn us about more floods, anticipating too much water in too short a time period.
I agree with those who say we need to manage the consequences of global warming, as the UK on her own will be unable to curb the worlds carbon output. The case for tackling our twin water problems is so much greater, because water shortage and too much flooding is directly linked to another contemporary phenomenon ?? high levels of inward migration allied to massive development.
I will be submitting evidence to the Parliamentary enquiry, and have submitted evidence to the governments review. My own constituency has given us plenty of warning of what is going wrong, thanks to the pattern of intense development. It reflects the position in much of southern and eastern England.
In recent summers we have been told to go easy on our water use, and in some places hosepipe bans have been imposed. We have experienced regular bouts of flooding, especially in places where there has been recent building on flood plain.
The solutions are relatively straightforward. To secure our water supply we need to take account of rising population, and rising water use per head. There is no need to demand restrictions on individual water use ?? water is the ultimate renewable resource, with the water cycle bringing water to us and taking it back to the sea on a regular basis.
By all means let the water companies mends their pipes, to get more water to market. We should remember, however, that mending pipes in urban areas is very disruptive to traffic and daily life, and might be ridiculously expensive. We should also expect the water industry to put in more capacity, increasing its reservoir space, and tapping new and rising water tables through boreholes. Introducing competition into the industry would doubtless bring in the new capital needed whilst lowering prices. It would also allow experimentation and innovation. Do we really need drinking quality water pumped to our homes to clean the loo and wash the car? Would house collection systems be better for some purposes? Would two different supplies make sense in some densely populated areas, with a cheaper grey water for many purposes? The market would answer these questions if allowed to function.
To keep us drier we need government to insist on proper flood control measures if they will persist in requiring development on flood plains. Every large scheme should not only tackle its own fast run off water but should make a contribution to the backlog of capital works needed to contain and route the run off water away from the developments. The Environment Agency needs to do a better job cleaning and maintaining the flood defences it already has, and putting in place the many schemes needed to bring relief from flooding to all those badly affected this summer.