Clean water – and plenty of it

I never understand why it is fashionable establishment thinking to want to limit our use of water. Water is the commonest of substances on our planet. Here in the UK we have plenty of fresh water on top of the huge volumes of salt water all round our coast, alleviating the need to filter the salt out of what we use.

There is a water cycle where the winds pick up water from the sea, form clouds and then deposit a lot of it on our islands. All we have to do is to store it in lakes or reservoirs and draw on it as required, with suitable cleaning and filtering to ensure safety if we drink it. Our using it does not destroy it. We pass it out in used and dirty form, only for it to go round the cycle again and re-emerge as clean water to use again.

The UK industry is heavily regulated. The price control regulation builds in a strict restraint on providing more water capacity, as the regulator effectively controls how much capital can be applied. We have a strange system where there is a single supply to each home, so you need to use drinking standard water on flushing loos and hosing your garden instead of using grey water for these purposes. Maybe the way to go is to encourage more homes to collect their own rainwater for lower grade uses, cutting the outflow through the dirty water system and reducing demand for high quality water.

It would be good if the regulators would allow a bit more capacity to be available. We are vulnerable to drought periods, so we do not want a repeat of the mid 1970s hot 1976 summer which would stretch the system too much. We keep adding homes and people to the south east with no new reservoir capacity. It cannot go on like that. We should be building new reservoirs now. They can be attractive landscape features, and would be welcome as an alternative to a new housing estate in a given area under pressure of development.

High standards are essential for drinking water. On the whole the UK achieves this.The issues relate to water rationing and future needs. As we move to growing more of our own food at home we will need more water for crops. Richer societies want more water for everything from showers to car cleaning and garden maintenance. Let’s get on with catering for those demands from what should be a good growth business.

The water industry under its regulators has to tell people in the middle of a warm summer they should throttle back on water use, when they should be revelling in high demand. You do not hear the hot cross bun makers telling people at easter their buns are rationed because people want too many of them.


  1. Ian Wragg
    October 14, 2020

    The government slavishly follows EU directives hence no more capacity over the last 10 years when the population has exploded.
    Again it’s a matter of control, restrict access and keep the price high.
    We have monopolies in watet supply and are being ripped off.

    1. Stephen Priest
      October 14, 2020

      I never understand why it is fashionable establishment thinking to want to …..

      1. Fred H
        October 14, 2020

        fashionable thinking is rarely sensible thinking… (do quote me).

      2. Sir Patrick Vaccine
        October 14, 2020

        Dr Matt Strauss
        A medic’s case against another lockdown

        ‘Do no harm’ are three words all doctors must follow in the course of their work. These words make me convinced that Covid-19 lockdowns are the wrong approach, and a growing number of doctors are on my side.

        More in the Spectator

      3. Hope
        October 14, 2020

        JR, Spellman made it clear no new reservoirs in SE because of EU regs/directives rather prevent leaks than to build or something along those lines etc. Another remaining Europhile who put EU before country. Same for labelling of foods if you recall. Her husband’s business had some link did it not? I seem to recollect she had to get rid of her shares before coming a minister. Same old same old Fake Tory.

        1. Original Chris
          October 14, 2020

          Yes, the dreaded EU Water Framework Directive which ensures (unless truly breaks the EU lock) that we do not make use of abundant water supply in the UK. The UK as a whole is a water surplus area, albeit with supply concentrated in the north and west. The most obvious solution is to build more reservoirs/utilise existing lakes and construct pipelines, which in earlier time happened e.g. Manchester supplied by Thirlmere. Instead we are required to endure all sorts of restrictions first ranging from metering and hosepipe bans to standpipes in dry weather, which are actually totally unnecessary if one looks at the water supply equation in the UK. Constructing reservoirs is apparently only permitted as last resort, after all these other measures have been deployed.

          Will Johnson let us break free from these strangling regulations and let us come to the solution that is best for this country, particularly in view of the burgeoning population (plus housing),whose needs have never been adequately factored in to local development plans?

          Instead the local population have to endure shortages and restrictions more akin to poor countries. However, one could argue we are not a rich and prosperous country after all the disgraceful waste of billions on misguided and flawed plans to tackle Covid.

        2. Original Chris
          October 14, 2020

          You are right,Hope, re the EU and the reservoirs and pipelines. My comment in response to you about the EU Water Framework Directive and what it entails has not been posted. Significant, as it provided relevant information which people should be aware of. Why is that apparently not acceptable?

      4. Hope
        October 14, 2020

        OT: Johnson caves in again to the deadline HE set for tomorrow!

        What an utter disgrace Johnson is. Same as last year’s October deadline, and all the others he gave. EU must be holding their ribs with laughter.

        Please get rid of him. His bad decisions started with lying over the WA and PD, then Haiwei, then HS2 followed by a disaterous March budget and the tortuous Chinese virus decisions one after another.

    2. Martin in Cardiff
      October 14, 2020

      Rubbish – the only-for-profit private water companies have freely disposed of spare capacity of their own accords.

      They have saved on maintenance costs, realised contingent land values by residential planning applications and so on, and have even charged waste companies for filling in reservoirs with rubble etc. in some instances.

      In turn, during heavy rains this has meant that water which would otherwise have been held back now flows down valleys to increase flooding.

      The Chicago School doctrine, as slavishly followed by the Tories, continues to ruin the country.

    3. matthu
      October 14, 2020

      If water is not controlled in ay way, we become more vulnerable to droughts and flooding. If forest management is largely abandoned as it has been in some parts of the world, we become more vulnerable to wild fires.

      There is a connection here somewhere.

    4. Ian @Barkham
      October 14, 2020


  2. Mark B
    October 14, 2020

    Good morning

    It is all to do with investment and profit making. Many of our water companies are foreign owned which in my opinion should not be the case. Water is one of those items essential for life and good health. It should not be free but be free from profiteering.

    One of the peculiarities of where I live is that water and waste are handled by two separate companies. With different management and staff. Why is this duplication allowed ? This is an extra cost that the consumer has to pay, we cannot survive without clean water.

    Privatisation of this monopoly has not brought the benefits one would hope.

    1. Martin in Cardiff
      October 14, 2020

      Could you give an example of a privatisation, which actually has brought any discernible benefits for the people of this country? Don’t forget, that the people who work in all these industries are “the people of this country” too.

      Please don’t say BT.

      System X telephony – touch dialling etc. – was developed under public ownership, but privatisation timed just to precede its promulgation.

      1. Edward2
        October 14, 2020

        I thought you might say BT
        I had to wait 6 months for a phone line.
        And had no choice on what phone they gave me.
        A useless State monopoly.

      2. dixie
        October 15, 2020

        mobile telephony, personal computing, television, the car, to name a few.

    2. Peter
      October 14, 2020

      Exactly. Profits are everything.

      No investment in infrastructure or even adequate maintenance.

      So huge amounts of water are lost through leakage from water company pipe works.

      Globalist corporations also see water supply as a potentially huge money-making racket throughout the world. At least there is plentiful water in these isles, even if it is not properly collected and distributed.

    3. Ian @Barkham
      October 14, 2020


      They are not permitted to make money in their home countries, so the UK taxpayer gets to subsidies all their operations

    4. forthurst
      October 14, 2020

      What benefits would have been expected from water privatisation? Product innovation? Greater capital investment? Cheaper supply? The supply network for natural gas was built before privatisation as was the national grid. The main benefit of the privatisations of electricity and telephony was the removal of the dire GEC from supplying overpriced obsolescent products for infrastructure and consumer appliances because of its close relationship with government minsters. Had public procurement been better, the benefits of privatisation would have been extremely slim.

      Private enterprise works in many contexts but not all. Where large capital investment is required, there are fewer takers, hence a nuclear power station to supply overpriced electricity to provide endless profits for the French government and the Chinese.

      What is government to do to obviate the failure of foreign owned profit centres not wanting to invest in reservoirs? Build them at public expense like HS2, then let the foreigners continue to profit from selling us the water?

  3. Adam
    October 14, 2020

    Roofs should be designed to route controlled levels of filtered rainwater through homes for use before pouring away.

    Much washing and rinsing can be accomplished automatically in the flow. Pushing drinking water into the loft as now, for a similar purpose seems daft.

    1. forthurst
      October 14, 2020

      One of the greatest advances in public health was through the creation of biologically pure mains water. Water should be rationed by cost only so if people with huge lawns such as JR wish to save costs, they can capture water from other sources and pump it
      over their gardens; however, water which is sprayed or touched can be inhaled or ingested.

      1. a-tracy
        October 14, 2020

        You’ve only got to look at the debris on the patio from rainwater with sand and other detritus in it. I wouldn’t like that untreated water to flush the toilet without significant treatment when the toilet is flushed it sprays a plume of bacteria all over the inside of the seat cover that people then touch when they lift it.

        1. Adam
          October 15, 2020

          Controlled levels of filtered rainwater would be treated, just as any system needs to be fit for its intended purpose.

    2. Mike Wilson
      October 14, 2020

      In most houses the drinking water, from the kitchen tap, is from the main. Cold water storage in the roof provides the head needed for gravity hot water systems and to supply bath and basin taps.

    3. No Longer Anonymous
      October 14, 2020

      What about the leaks in the water supply ?

      More is wasted this way than any other.

      1. a-tracy
        October 14, 2020

        “In the UK as a whole, about 23% of the water put into the public supply is lost because of leaks. In England and Wales the figure is about 20%.” BBC Reality Check August 2018.

  4. Everhopeful
    October 14, 2020

    We didn’t have an Easter and it doesn’t look like we will get a Christmas now thanks to the current madness.
    This island was blessed with a wonderful climate. Plenty of water for everyone.
    So what did our politicians do?
    They threw the doors open wide and let the world in.
    Too many people = not enough to go round…of anything.

    And being no expert on this it does appear that water is no longer managed properly (political probably like the Somerset Levels)…which will lead to trouble.

    1. Andy
      October 14, 2020

      A silly post. We have plenty of water but it is in the wrong places. We need water in the south and east and it falls, far more often,
      in the north and west.

      But blaming foreigners is easier I guess.

      1. JimS
        October 14, 2020

        We can’t choose where the water falls, we can choose where the people live and where they come from.

        In five years I have never washed my car. Come rain, shine or drought those of South Asian heritage in our street wash their German cars weekly. I can only assume that is for the benefit of being ‘one-up’ on their cousins, “Look we have an Audi andwe have water!”.

      2. BJC
        October 14, 2020

        Andy: Everhopeful is correctly apportioning blame to politicians for their abject failures in managing the resources of UK plc……..and you know it.

      3. Roy Grainger
        October 14, 2020

        50% of Britan’s water companies are foreign owned. So why shouldn’t we blame them ?

      4. Lifelogic
        October 14, 2020

        Water is reasonably cheap to store but fairly expensive to move. Unlike electricity which is expensive and wasteful to store but fairly cheap to move.

      5. Fred H
        October 14, 2020

        well the EU movers and shakers ARE foreigners!

      6. a-tracy
        October 14, 2020

        Yet the flooding is in the south – Cornwall, Kent, Sussex and the East Peterborough, Hull, Great Yarmouth.

        The only person mentioning foreigners is YOU.

      7. Ian Wragg
        October 14, 2020

        It was your beloved EU that prevented more reservoir capacity, yes you are correct about the rainfall but that doesn’t mitigate the argument that increasing the population by 10 million hasn’t had a detrimental effect.

      8. beresford
        October 14, 2020

        Actually if you read his post he is blaming the idiots who let large numbers of ‘foreigners’ in.

      9. RichardP
        October 14, 2020

        Didn’t they have a hose pipe ban in NW England during the summer of 2018?

      10. Mike Wilson
        October 14, 2020

        I don’t think ‘foreigners’ were being blamed. I think politicians were being blamed for allowing high levels of unwanted (by most people – even second generation immigrants) immigration.

        You, of course, do want high levels of immigration but you refuse to engage with the question – ‘How many people would you allow to come here?’

        The reason you won’t engage with this question is because, if you gave a number, you would be implying a limit. And, when that limit is reached, you would have to admit that no further immigration should be allowed. At which point you could not wear your ‘bleeding heart liberal’ badge on your sleeve.

        One must deduce you agree there must be a limit to immigration- but disagree over the numbers.

        I would say, in a country that imports much of its food and some of its energy, ‘and which has a chronic housing shortage (with the resultant high house prices and rents, ‘one in, one out’ would be a sensible policy.

      11. No Longer Anonymous
        October 14, 2020

        You’re such a liar, Andy.

        You have been told time and again that it’s numbers, not race.

        Decades ago our people indicated they wanted a smaller population by having fewer children.

        The ruling classes decided it was going to be otherwise.

        Now we have exactly the shortages that we predicted.

      12. Everhopeful
        October 14, 2020

        Well, Andy…take up thy shovel and a few million pipes and you can dig along the whole length of the HS2 line to bring water to the South!!
        That should keep you busy for a few years with any luck.

    2. glen cullen
      October 14, 2020

      Excellent post – agree with your sentiment

      1. Everhopeful
        October 14, 2020

        +1 🙂

  5. turboterrier
    October 14, 2020

    The answer lies in the hands of the politicians in that they could pass the laws that introduce grey water storage on every new development. The surface water from the roads to be captured in depositors with over flow facilities to prevent flooding. The technology already exists. The developers will not want it as it will add to build costs whether it is water from roads or roofs. The water companies will lose revenue as it will only be potable water they will be metering as the grey water will be used for WCS, gardens,car washing etc. There is a very good chance this will never happen because it is not linked with saving the world from climate change. Get the government advisors to sell the idea it will help climate change then you will drag developers, planners and architects kicking and screaming to try and come up with a economic plan. Problem as always, who is going to pay? The normal answer as always , the tax payers.

    1. Alan Jutson
      October 14, 2020

      turbo terrier

      “grey water”

      The Water Companies already charge for the disposal of grey water, it is calculated on the usage of the drinking water they supply, on a what goes in must come out basis. Check you bills it is usually itemised.
      You can contest this calculation if you can prove that your rainwater does not go into the sewerage system, but into your own soakaway.

      It has been suggested the problem with storing grey water in underground tanks is keeping it monitored and bug free, chemicals may need to be added but how many home owners would be bothered to monitor it. Collecting it is simple, existing guttering and down pipes into a tank., many do it with a small above ground tanks for watering the plants.

      1. a-tracy
        October 14, 2020

        This could be planned into big new housing estates though couldn’t Alan with a garden tap fed from this treated reservoire or would it be too big a public health concern.

    2. fedupsoutherner
      October 14, 2020

      some good points Turbo

    3. acorn
      October 14, 2020

      Thanks to global warming, the warmer winds will pick-up even more water from the oceans and deposit it in bigger rain storms when it hits a cold front over the UK.

      With the Jet Stream wiggling further south lately, pulling low pressure systems over us; we may even get better skiing conditions in Scotland and Northern Europe.

      Also, with more CO2 in the atmosphere, the rain will be slightly more acidic and dissolve more of the rocky bits that will run off into the rivers. Still, you can’t win them all.

      1. Edward2
        October 14, 2020

        Your last paragraph is scientific balderdash.

        1. Fred H
          October 15, 2020

          acid rain? – – it might clean our roof tiles!

        2. acorn
          October 17, 2020

          Not according to the USGS “Why is the Ocean Salty?”

          The rain that falls on the land contains some dissolved carbon dioxide from the surrounding air. This causes the rainwater to be slightly acidic due to carbonic acid. The rain physically erodes the rock and the acids chemically break down the rocks and carries salts and minerals along in a dissolved state as ions.

  6. DOM
    October 14, 2020

    Encouraging rationing in all areas is a political strategy and assists in the State’s agenda, for the State does have an agenda, in controlling how people respond physically and emotionally

    It isn’t just the use of water that the State strategically encourages

    The deliberate invocation of guilt, criminal responsibility and emotional blackmail in innocent persons is now endemic in the UK. Today, we see this across all areas of our lives.

    A refusal to wear a mask is an act of deliberate harm to others. This is based on a falsehood but it serves a political purpose

    Using ‘too much’ water is a crime against the environment and your neighbour as your overuse deprives your neighbour of capacity

    Encouraging criminal responsibility and blame by dredging up carefully filtered and manicured version of history with the aim of demonising tens of millions of moral citizens, transferring blame and responsibility, smashing their freedoms and then demanding massive payments

    Water, freedoms, food, mobility, cars. Encourage their limitations.

    And this is what the average British voter votes for.

    I am convinced the British people are either naive, plain stupid or simply captured by the State’s ‘free lunch’ culture strategy. They’ll pay a price for their ignorance. Indeed they are now paying that price for endorsing the moral equivalent of Caligula embodied by those who now rule over every aspect of our lives.

    1. Everhopeful
      October 14, 2020

      People are tribal, brainwashed and terrified.
      They have let this happen.
      And I know this from MANY events over the years.

    2. a-tracy
      October 14, 2020

      Are they all ‘innocent persons’ in the spread of these infections though Dom? The vast majority, if you believe them, have been wearing masks for months now and social distancing – it hasn’t stopped the resurgence of CV19.

      Liverpool, has a partial lockdown the same as the rest of the Country since the partial rule led reopening – no more than six people mixing when numbers ticked up, yet it was reported 50 were in the same house partying at the weekend past midnight, hundreds of others in Liverpool are photographed breaking the physical distance rules then the cost of this is wanted to be put on the whole Country by Starmer – close everyone down.

    3. zorro
      October 14, 2020

      On the button


    4. A.Sedgwick
      October 14, 2020

      The collapse of post WW2 society is well underway. There is more significance to this pandemic than is being recognised. Whether the economy is quickly wrecked by spurious science and false economics or splutters on with our “leaders” continuing to make false promises it is just timing when the majority realise there is no such thing as a free lunch. CV has ended the 75 years of pyrrhic and ponzi politics.

    5. Annette
      October 14, 2020


      Today it’s ‘encouraging’ rationing.
      Tomorrow it’ll be ‘enforced’ rationing.
      This is the drive behind ‘smart’ meters, allowing remote shutting off of utilities & another control mechanism for the oiks. Oops! Errors happen…
      I do not have a water meter. I have no problem with an analogue water meter, thereby paying for actual usage but apparently an ordinary meter will not be provided, & from what I understood from the water man ALL water meters will be swapped for ‘smart’ meters over the next couple of years. They have been busy changing the connectors so that they can be ‘swapped out’ without your consent, declaring the analogue water usage meters ‘obsolete’.
      The restriction of choice, liberty & freedom, along with rules by diktat, appears to be the hallmark of ‘conservatism’ today, though the majority are really liberal democrats wearing a blue badge. It gives me no faith that they will actually fulfil the democratic mandate to leave the EU. They’ve signed the appalling WA/PD & show no signs of having the cajones to walk away despite the repeated incidences of bad faith by the EU.
      I think it’s safe to say that the conservative wing of our one party state is a dead parrot. True Conservatives need to think seriously about the future as their ‘party’ has been hollowed out from the inside.

    6. Hope
      October 14, 2020

      Dom, Again you wold have thought Fake Tories would understand their mass immigration policy requires more water!

    7. No Longer Anonymous
      October 14, 2020

      “Encouraging criminal responsibility and blame by dredging up carefully filtered and manicured version of history with the aim of demonising tens of millions of moral citizens”

      And where was the cotton taken ? To the *Satanic* Mills of England of course. We were enslaved too – down pits, up chimneys, in the bowels of ships and in sculleries.

      The slavers of Britain amounted to 1% of the population and we can tell this because that is the number of our population that was given compensation for the abolition of slavery.

      Ironic then, that the hypocrites telling the rest of the population that they must atone for the sins of slavery and industrialisation (while their kids benefit from nepotism), tell us to cut back on carbon (while they jet around) and who tell us our votes don’t count (even when we beat them) number around 1%.


      Historical rewriting.

      I was disturbed to visit a war museum recently in which the Spitfires and Hurricanes had female mannequins in them. I wouldn’t have been so bothered (they were symbolic auxiliary pilots) had BBC TV historian told his daughters that Battle of Britain had females in dog fights because “It didn’t really matter and distortion of history was good for the future.” to that effect.

      And also the recent complaints about a play in which Cleopatra was not depicted as black – well that’s because she wasn’t. We have just got so used to the historical rewrite and use of black actors in this role. And this is where it’s all going.

    8. dixie
      October 15, 2020

      So lets assume people follow your lead and not vote for LibLabCon – the result is that LibLabCon still get in because there is no viable alternative to vote for and some will still vote for LibLabCon.

      So, what exactly is your alternative. What practical, legal option are you offering. If you cannot or will not do that then it is you that is ignorant and naive

      Unless, all you want to do is vent …

  7. agricola
    October 14, 2020

    Yes we need greater storage capacity of rainwater and even more important a national distribution system. As a child I lived in a rural setting at a house my father built on about an acre of land. It was mostly wartime so we were almost self sufficient with fruit, vegetables and poultry. Water came as rain and was collected via the roof in two massive ex wine barrels. This served garden needs. Drinking water came from a well sunk in the back garden. A system that worked well and kept the extended family and friends nourished in difficult times. A psrt reversion to it to water the garden would not be amiss today. We have national distribution systems for electricity, gas, and aviation fuel, why was water left out. I can only conclude that government of all colours consider it unimportant. If you wish to avoid hosepipe bans, an open admission of failure, organise a grid whose main arteries could be laid down in our seas, as with oil and gas.

  8. Everhopeful
    October 14, 2020

    Boris’s concrete nightmare will not be conducive to agriculture.
    So there will be no crops needing waster.
    However, houses now have many bathrooms/en-suite/cloakrooms/shower rooms.
    With all the millions of houses needed for politicians’ mass immigration habit
    this could pose a problem. Change new build design?
    Maybe one standpipe per new development? Or two developments sharing one tap? Or a pond even?
    Sounds a bit third world doesn’t it?

    1. Everhopeful
      October 14, 2020

      ***waster = WATER!!

    2. 'None of the above'.
      October 14, 2020

      The issue, if any, is not the number of bathrooms but the number of people that require one.

    3. Ian @Barkham
      October 14, 2020

      3rd World for all is the Climate Change objective.

    4. Fred H
      October 14, 2020

      … and the large volume of water required to build infrastructure and new homes!

  9. No Longer Anonymous
    October 14, 2020

    I have been saying so about reservoirs on this blog for some while now.

    It is clear that the political/administrative class LOATHES the British people and so pushes on with HS2 and immigration without any basic expansion of infrastructure and services. And I do wonder where the council tax money from all the new households goes – or are they not council tax payers ?

    Within six months this country is going to explode.

    The government is not going to be able to contain it. Just what the hell is going on ?

    1. Everhopeful
      October 14, 2020

      I reckon that rather than my previous theory ( wholly UN), this fiasco is related to the 2009 Swine Flu debacle …with many of the same main players.
      Big Pharma, WHO, panic… based on the possibly genuinely awful Avian Flu and a major change in the way the WHO describes pandemics.
      I believe comp is still being sought or paid re victims of hurried swine flu jab!
      Very worth looking up.
      They seem not to be able to LEARN.

      They do loathe us..why should we be having to guess??

  10. Sea_Warrior
    October 14, 2020

    ‘There is a water cycle where the winds pick up water from the sea, form clouds and then deposit a lot of it on our islands.’ There you go again, Sir John, using science and common-sense. How on earth will the eco-nuts understand any of that?

  11. BeebTax
    October 14, 2020

    It’s considered a bit more sexy to announce HS2, or offshore wind turbines than a reservoir building program. Or, connected to water supply (no pun intended), improving the sewage system. No government PR people are going to salivate over the essential, overlooked, mundane things that make life more tolerable.

    1. Stephen Priest
      October 14, 2020

      offshore wind turbines

      That idea should be blown away immediately

    2. Sir Patrick Vaccine
      October 14, 2020

      The virus is not letting rip in Sweden because they followed the correct science and not Neil Ferguson and Piers Morgan

      Sweden – No Lockdowns, No Masks, No Insanity

      “Can someone explain to me how a country of over 10 million people has less than one death per day without the miraculous power of cloth masks?”

      Tony Heller

    3. Everhopeful
      October 14, 2020

      Well, unbelievably there is an international argument which insists that reservoirs exacerbate water supply problems.
      By increasing demand for water!!
      I can imagine Boris et al lapping all that up like eager puppies!
      Muddy puddles for us….I foresee.

    4. fedupsoutherner
      October 14, 2020

      Beeb Yes, we have more houses being built but no extra facilities for sewerage which already operates 50% over loaded. A village near us has had so much extra housing built recently that on a hot summers day all you can smell is sewerage.

    5. BJC
      October 14, 2020

      I live on the south coast and can assure you there’s nothing sexy about the 116 offshore wind turbines stretching further than the eye can see…….a manmade abomination blighting the landscape forever, but a nice little earner for Eon and Rampion.

    6. Lifelogic
      October 14, 2020

      Indeed or to push the idiotic HS2 rather than make the many thousands of minor improvements all over the network that are needed and would certainly deliver far better value. Grand project are what politicians love rather than just sensible efficient management and minor improvements here and there.

      Almost anything would be better value than HS2. Just cancelling it and given tax cuts would be hugely better value.

  12. Frances Truscott
    October 14, 2020

    The south east relies on aquifers a great deal. So by all means let’s have new reservoirs but instead of millions of new homes. A few years ago we were within days of a standpipe . I would have had to drive to one. I’m afraid most men have no clue about how much water running a home takes. It’s not optional, particularly now. Can you imagine adequate hand washing with bottled water?
    Stop them building in the south east it’s absurd. Turn off population rise.

  13. Dave Andrews
    October 14, 2020

    Where are these new reservoirs going? Is this more wildlife habitat destroyed, or farmland lost?
    Rather than new reservoirs, how about less people? Why does London need 9m people? They aren’t farmers, so it’s not as if they do anything useful.

    1. Fred H
      October 14, 2020

      in many places where quarrying takes place, the area should be landscaped, assisted in allowing to fill with water, making recreational facilities.

    2. fedupsoutherner
      October 14, 2020

      Dave around here and in many parts of the country farmers are falling over themselves to get planning permission for housing on their fields. Instead of more housing, it would be better to build more reservoirs as during dry periods farmers use a lot of water pumped out onto their fields. It would benefit us all.

    3. Dennis
      October 14, 2020

      Why does the UK need 65 million + people? Is Switzerland with fewer than 10 million impoverished, let alone Iceland with ~ 300k.

  14. Frances Truscott
    October 14, 2020

    Collecting water is all very fine but water needs to be returned to the water cycle and it needs to be returned to the aquifers which take at least 10 years to re fill.

  15. Mike Wilson
    October 14, 2020

    If only you had insisted on a reservoir instead of the thousands of houses built around Wokingham in the last 10 years.

    The North and West of our country get a lot of rain and have vast sparsely populated areas. It’s a shame the money being wasted on HS2 is not being spent on reservoirs and pipe work to store the water and distribute it to where it is needed. If that happened future generations who, let’s face it, will be paying for HS2, will at least be paying for something useful.

    1. Sir Joe Soap
      October 14, 2020

      Or even encouraging people to live in these areas instead of taking them there on a (not funded by developers) HS2

    2. Christine
      October 14, 2020

      Rather than moving the water to the South move some jobs and people to the North. All we hear are words from the Government but nothing ever happens to improve the North/South divide. In fact the opposite has occurred with thousands of our local jobs moving South for no good reason.

  16. Richard1
    October 14, 2020

    There must be huge savings to the public purse available and massive opportunity to redeploy resources of people and capital to the productive economy (the bit where goods and services are supplied to people because they want them, and prices are determined by markets), by simply abolishing many of these quangos, regulators, busy bodies etc.

  17. Stephen Priest
    October 14, 2020

    I never understand why it is fashionable establishment thinking to want to …..

    and from there the list of costly ideas that seem to only make things worse is endless.

    1. bigneil(newercomp)
      October 14, 2020

      Because it is other peoples money – -thats why they give billions away in Foreign Aid every year and then make sure THEY – the govt – get all the thanks for helping the other countries – while WE go backwards – housing and free lives for anyone who comes – and letting our ex soldiers sleep rough.

  18. Steven
    October 14, 2020

    Decentralised water supply is very desirable. Rainwater collection should be a part of any home that is suitable. Anything that lessens state control of anything is desirable and beneficial.

    1. Dennis
      October 14, 2020

      Rainwater collection – won’t the authorities calculate how much rain you will be getting and tax you on that?

  19. Sir Joe Soap
    October 14, 2020

    Again, let’s STOP building more houses here instead of trying to cope with downsides of them being there. Or alternatively developers contribute to the UP FRONT cost of reservoirs, schools, health services, public transport, roads instead of getting a freebie. This would be the market solving the situation.

  20. Iain Gill
    October 14, 2020

    Re “when they should be revelling in high demand” same should be true of the social housing organisations, of healthcare providers, and so on. State organised limiting of capacity, rationing of output, allocation, and defending poor performance is not good.

  21. Sir Joe Soap
    October 14, 2020

    Well at least you voted the right way yesterday.
    The blob is now demanding total lockdown though which will cancel that out.

  22. Sakara Gold
    October 14, 2020

    The construction industry does now put buildings up that collect rain and grey water and utilise it for flushing the loos – the new Bloomberg building in Cannon Street is a fine example. Many horticultural companies also collect rainwater and use it in their greenhouses.

    We are fortunate that British heavy industry – the paper industry in particular – was destroyed in the Thater/Major years. Otherwise the standpipes would have been the new manufacturing growth industry.

    We have regulation in the wrong areas. Why are the foreign owned water companies still allowed to dump raw sewage in our rivers when it rains too much?

  23. Lynn Atkinson
    October 14, 2020

    I can never understand why it’s fashionable to bel8eve that everyone has a right to ‘free health care’ but not to free water!

  24. Sylvia Priest
    October 14, 2020

    There always seems to be plenty of water in huge puddles in Molly Millars Lane as soon as we get rain as the drains don’t seem to get cleared and water mains are old and keep bursting wasting more water. Large estates being built but the infrastructure re water supply is not changed then they wonder why they cannot cope….. with all the new housing this is bound to get worse.

  25. Nigl
    October 14, 2020

    Off topic but well done and thank you for voting against the curfew last night. We need this government to be held more to account. No scientific basis at all presented. Risk averse political,posturing.

  26. JayGee
    October 14, 2020

    I never understand why it is not fashionable establishment thinking to realise that there must be something in our water supply affecting the thinking of the so-called establishment. Been going on for years now, but in particular over the most recent 9 months of pandemic.

  27. Lifelogic
    October 14, 2020


    Also the suppliers should be offering discount for people who use more! The water ends up in the sea anyway in the end – be it purified and used or just unused and flowing down the river. Just charge per M3 used.

    If some people want to save water and thus money by not flushing so often, showering quickly once a month, capturing water off the roof and letting their lawn die so be it. If other want a green lawn and a power shower twice a day fine too.

  28. Roy Grainger
    October 14, 2020

    One thing I remember reading (I don’t know if it is true) is that we have no real national water network in UK (akin to the national grid for electricity) which could more easily balance supply and demand in different regions. If true this sounds like an easy place to start to improve things.

  29. Ian @Barkham
    October 14, 2020

    Sir John

    Yes capacity is a problem. A problem that easily equates to spiraling uncontrolled development in areas without proper water resources.

    Here in Wokingham, we surfer to the extent that our water has to be heavily chlorinated mainly due to it being recycled after being used first by other humans. Opening a tap here in the morning means first getting hit with the overpowering stench of chlorine, then to use it for drinking it has to be set aside to allow the gas to evaporate.

    As you should be aware in London and most of areas like Kent the water, may be hard, but it is un-recycled and for the most part had more than a few hundred years of filtering. So can be considered top quality for drinking. Wokingham – diabolical, disgusting and how did they get approval comes to mind. Sanitary whys it may get just get through but the quality has to be the worst in the country.

  30. Bryan Harris
    October 14, 2020

    This is but another stick with which to beat us with.

    Add it to the list of; Climate Change, pandemics, political correctness, and a thousand other things they use to control us with.

    Supply of basic commodities is a management issue, whether that is food or water — What we are hearing is that they’d rather we were not there to use up resources ‘we’ shouldn’t be using anyway, as they are unwilling to maintain the supply adequately.

    With so much water on this planet how on earth can there ever be shortages — Never – it is always a lack of management willingness to do something practical.

    Very soon we will no doubt have a minister for water conservation to make sure we are rationed and we don’t use too much of something that should be free and is plentiful — At the heart of all this the socialist mindset.

    1. Dennis
      October 14, 2020

      ‘…. how on earth can there ever be shortages ..’ ‘cos it’s needed to irrigate more land to feed more people, and the politics of Egypt/Sudan/Ethiopia water wars, Chinese control of water thru the Himalaya to S.E. Asia, India control of water to Pakistan arguments, arsenic in Bangladeshi water, World Bank privatising water in poor countries to pay off debts, etc., etc. may have something to do with it.

      1. Bryan Harris
        October 15, 2020

        AGAIN – this comes down to the unwillingness of those in power to provide that water, to manage it properly and to put in place the ability to have as much water as we need.

        Historically of course there have been difficulties with water supply, but why now? WE have the technology to handle it – we just don’t have the intelligence nor the initiative for those in charge to get off their a***s and make something happen!

  31. Iain Moore
    October 14, 2020

    From the WWF

    Our chalk streams are unique – with most found in southern England (and a few in France). Which makes them all the more special. They are a haven for iconic species like the otter, kingfisher and salmon, which is why we work to protect them.

    But a combination of population growth, a spiralling increase in water use and pollution have put huge pressure on our rivers and streams.

    Even they are recognising that overpopulation is a problem , when will our political class do the same? In fact just stop being part of the problem would be nice.

    1. Bryan Harris
      October 14, 2020

      I wouldn’t get too excited about what the WWF is saying TBH — They are another charity that has left wing political views … But don’t they all!

      When a charity or any organisation gets involved in politics it is always of the politically correct kind.

  32. Narrow Shoulders
    October 14, 2020

    Quite, water metering seems fair (paying for what you use) but is really a racket with the product hugely over priced.

    We have collectors for rainwater for the garden but pressuring it to use is problematic.

    More reservoirs for more people does seem like a simple idea.

    Thank you for your vote last night.

  33. The Prangwizard
    October 14, 2020

    A number of references to the UK but then ‘we keep adding homes and people to the south east’.

    Is that the south east of Scotland? No. Is that the south east of Wales or Northen Ireland? No. If it were in any of these places it would be mentioned but as it is England it is not. That is how England is treated the whole time. It and we in England are taken for granted and it is assumed every reader will know it is England.

    England is rendered invisible even by those who claim to speak for England.

    1. Fedupsoutherner
      October 14, 2020


  34. Ian @Barkham
    October 14, 2020

    Never forget we do not live in a society that permits Government by the People for the People.

    Every direction, initiative is a manipulation focused on Government control of the People by a few that believe in the Elite(what ever that is) should be masters. That though is not from a left leaning Socialist but me a free market Conservative.

  35. GilesB
    October 14, 2020

    Presumably HS2 incorporates a twenty ft diameter water main underneath the track to bring water from North to South. Or would that require joined up thinking?

  36. Wil Pretty
    October 14, 2020

    Ah – this could be a use for offshore wind turbines that prevents them disrupting our electricity grid. They are in the sea and their electricity could be used to desalinate salt water and then pump it to shore.
    This will cost billions, but think of all the jobs it will create in developing countries like China.
    Only kidding! Please dont’ tell the Government in case they invest billions in a pilot plant that will demonstrate how uneconomic the proposal would be.

  37. Anonymous
    October 14, 2020

    I never understand why it is fashionable establishment thinking to want to limit our use of water.

    Establishment = international terrorism.

  38. fedupsoutherner
    October 14, 2020

    Indeed John. Where we live on the border with Wales the fields look like a reservoir every year as the River Severn bursts it banks. Early this year many villages flooded including Telford and Shrewsbury and the water did a lot of expensive damage. Some have said the river doesn’t get dredged like it used to and has become shallow while others think instead of all that water lying on the fields it could be in reservoirs built at intervals along the route that floods. There is certainly no need for anyone in this country to go without water even during dry periods. Why aren’t new houses being fitted with systems where by grey water is used for the garden and flushing the loos?

  39. a-tracy
    October 14, 2020

    There are 3 current flood alerts in the Midlands, can’t these flood land areas be redirected into storage, reservoir run offs?

    Google says the areas most at risk of flooding in the UK are – Cornwall, Peterborough, Hull, Great Yarmouth, the Kent and Sussex coastal areas – is there nothing that can be done to store this excess water for productive use?

  40. Andy
    October 14, 2020

    Yesterday a Tory minister accused businesses of having ‘their heads in the sand’ over Brexit. A chap called Lord Agnew – presumably an unelected bureaucrat.

    They are already gearing up to blame everyone else for their mess. It won’t work. There will eventually be a public ignore and this Agnew bloke can join the growing list who’ll end up in a cell.

    Tory Party Conference 2030: Location – Belmarsh.

    1. Edward2
      October 14, 2020

      Dictators always had lists.
      You are following in a fine tradition.

  41. beresford
    October 14, 2020

    On Sky News today we are told that there is mass support for another lockdown. How about allowing those who want to lock themselves down do so while the rest of us continue with our current covid-restricted lives? This would provide a useful source of comparative data for planning future policy.

  42. Fred H
    October 14, 2020

    OFF topic…..
    The Chinese say they will test a city of >9m people within an elapsed week.

    Given the error rate in all countries’ testing – it might be fascinating to hear ‘zero positives’.

  43. glen cullen
    October 14, 2020

    Hopefully after tomorrows dead-line the waters in and surrounding our island will once again belong to the UK and not the EU

  44. ukretired123
    October 14, 2020

    Water from the infant Thames passes through 8 people on its way to London.
    That should focus everyone’s priorities surely given the plentiful rainfall we get all years around Britain.
    The high price of bottled water with carbon miles from Scotland would never have been believed by past generations like coals to Newcastle.
    Hope Boris stands firm today and pours cold water on any nonsense coming from Brussels….

    1. Martin in Cardiff
      October 14, 2020

      That’s an urban myth, well dismissed many times.

      1. ukretired123
        October 14, 2020

        Are you a bottled water salesman Martin by any chance?

  45. bigneil(newercomp)
    October 14, 2020

    Hope you are planning for lots more reservoirs – because those millions of people you are waving in ALL want water 0f fresh clean drinking water – -straight out of a tap – -and of course – ALL paid for by us.

  46. Christine
    October 14, 2020

    It must be of benefit to the utility companies to have greater water capacity. Most households are on water meters so to restrict their usage during drought periods must reduce the utility company profits. Surely, the Government in partnership with these companies could come up with a joint scheme whereby the Government pay the upfront cost and the water companies lease the reservoir capacity.

    1. Dennis
      October 14, 2020

      ‘…so to restrict their usage during drought periods must reduce the utility company profits…’ No – as the water is scarcer its price must rise so the profits are protected, I’m thinking.

  47. Christine
    October 14, 2020

    We collect rainwater for use in our garden but I draw the line at filling buckets to flush the loo.

    1. Everhopeful
      October 14, 2020

      Don’t fret..I dare say they’ll make composting loos mandatory!🤢

  48. RichardP
    October 14, 2020

    I remember when we had an unmetered water supply and were promised unlimited electricity from nuclear power. What we got instead was unlimited population growth and unlimited amounts of housing development.
    How did that happen?

    1. Martin in Cardiff
      October 14, 2020

      The same way as the non-materialisation of the “unlimited” leisure time – rather the reverse – that the IT revolution was supposed to bring did, Richard.

      1. Fred H
        October 14, 2020

        at what date would you care to state the IT revolution began? Mine began in 1967 and I think the average working week was way higher than it is today ….I certainly believe over the decades people work less and less.
        Your beloved EU Working Directive has had some effect – although many I’ve known manage to ignore it.

      2. Edward2
        October 14, 2020

        Well the average industrial working week has reduced from 48 to 38 in a few decades.
        And the standard of living has risen greatly at the same time.

        1. Fred H
          October 15, 2020

          find me any civil service job that works 38 hours! And most are paid for breaks.

  49. Fred H
    October 14, 2020

    HS2 keeps giving (headaches).
    from BBC news website.

    The first phase of the HS2 high speed railway linking London to Birmingham has gone over its budget again. The news comes less than two months after construction officially began. Ministers have admitted an extra £800m is needed due to more asbestos being discovered and the complexities of bringing the railway into a new hub station at London Euston.
    Earlier this year the government gave HS2 a revised budget of £98bn after previous costings became unrealistic.

    1. glen cullen
      October 14, 2020

      Just Unbelieveable

  50. Pominoz
    October 14, 2020

    Sir John

    “High standards are essential for drinking water”

    What a shame that the same high standards seem not to be essential for a Prime Minister. The news that Boris has abandoned his deadline for a deal with the EU is deplorable. What a joke. Perhaps his next duty should be to write a book entitled ‘How to make a nation look like a fool in the eyes of the world’

    I am absolutely disgusted!

    1. Martin in Cardiff
      October 14, 2020

      Well, it took seventeen million only too glad to do just that, so he can’t shoulder all the blame.

  51. Norman
    October 14, 2020

    Dear Sir John, in these perplexing times, I like to inspire a higher hope, in that its not all down to us:

    “There is a water cycle where the winds pick up water from the sea, form clouds and then deposit a lot of it on our islands” Sir John Redwood: 2020. Compare with…..

    “For he maketh small the drops of water:
    they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof:
    which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly.” Job, (?) 1600BC

    “The wind goeth toward the south,
    and turneth about unto the north;
    it whirleth about continually,
    and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.
    All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full;
    unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.” King Solomon, c.1000 BC (Ecclesiastes 1:6-7)

    39.16 degrees F. 3.98 C.
    ‘The temperature at which H2O becomes the most dense and mass heavy, is the primary metric which permits the hydrologic cycle to work.’ (Comment by Z Barth, USA, in Journal of Creation 28(3):61–66, December 2014).

  52. Bryan Harris
    October 14, 2020

    While we are distracted with how the virus is being mismanaged, the government is pushing through, with undue haste, a bill to allow many groups get away with murder or rape in the name of the Queen.

    The “SpyCops” Bill would allow state spies to commit crimes in the UK and overseas with impunity — without even exempting crimes like murder, torture and sexual offences.

    These extreme powers to immunise state crimes from prosecution would be handed to a broad range of agencies — from police and MI5, to the Department of Health and EVEN …. the Food Standards Agency.

    What is going on….!

  53. hefner
    October 14, 2020

    Maybe Sir John before writing his daily moan could have looked on for example wikipedia to look at the company providing water and collecting waste water for a bit more than a quarter of the English population, in London, the Thames valley and a few places around.

    As a monopoly and with a rather toothless regulator this company practically does what it wants, paying in excess of £800k a year to his CEO, paying no corporation tax between 2011 and 2015, maintaining rather inefficiently its distribution network, losing roughly 675 million l of water a day through leaks (out of 2.6bn l water a day distributed, i.e. 25% leakage) , but still paying its Australian owner (Kemble Water Holdings Ltd./Macquarie Group) and its multiple main shareholders (Canadian OMERS pension fund, BT pension fund, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Chinese Investment Corporation, Kuwait Investment Authority) non negligible dividends.

    Then we are told here practically every day ‘everything is EU’s fault’. Yeah right, when one is unable to look farther than the tip of their nose, it is indeed EU’s fault. Bleating sheep.

    And you know what, After deliverance day, 01/01/2021, things will continue the same way … but wait a minute, no, things will indeed change, some contributors here have been calling for a ‘revolution’. … I won’t hold my breath. What clowns you are. Just look at the religious-inspired post above …

  54. Helen Smith
    October 14, 2020

    Thank you so much for making this point. Where I live houses are going up everywhere yet not a single thought has gone into the water supply beyond metering it or more properly rationing it by price.

  55. Nick Crowson-Towers
    October 15, 2020

    Ref: Clean Water – “We keep adding homes and people to the south east with no new reservoir capacity. It cannot go on like that. We should be building new reservoirs now. They can be attractive landscape features, and would be welcome as an alternative to a new housing estate in a given area under pressure of development.” – is such a fundamental and hugely important point. Look forward to future water shortages in your constituency, John !

  56. Adam
    October 15, 2020

    Decades earlier. a soft drinks company with rigid standards wanted to maintain identical quality of its product in whatever country their consumers happened to be when buying it. Their UH chemist, slightly chuckled as he explained privately that the water quality in England at the time was so high that all the paraphernalia their process involved achieved no difference at the output.

    Separate from that, another employee had also had the company ethos drilled into him to such an extent, that when he routinely took new casual bottle worker recruits on a tour of the factory, he urinated from the perimeter railings down in the source tank, to impress on the memory of someone seeing the process how high their standards were, and the message trickled down.

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