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 Drought - The Greatest threat to our rivers?

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David Harvey

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PostSubject: Re: Drought - The Greatest threat to our rivers?   Thu May 03, 2012 5:20 pm

From http://www.edie.net/news/news_story.asp?src=dnl&id=22371


UK water supplier Thames Water has come under fire from trade union GMB for closing more than 20 reservoirs, which it argues is responsible for making drought in the south east worse.

According to GMB, the closure of 25 water reservoirs in the south east since privatisation in the 1980s has resulted in less than 1% of the UK's rainfall being collected and stored for human consumption - instead the water runs directly into the sea.

It also argues that there is no shortage of water in the UK, but that the current south east drought is the result of "serious mismanagement" by Thames Water for failing to divert water in the region.

As a result, the union is calling on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee to launch an inquiry into water management and reservoir closures by Thames Water and other water utilities, saying that it must hold suppliers, the Environment Agency (EA), Ofwat and the regulatory bodies to account for allowing parts of the UK to "needlessly" run dry.

GMB national secretary for water Gary Smith, said: "Storage and transfer are two of the main elements of water resource management: one to move water from times of plenty to times of shortage; the other to convey water from places where it is plentiful to areas where it is in short supply. The third basic element is treatment to regulate water quality."

He added that water storage facilities in the south east has left the region short of water twice in the space of six years.

However, Thames Water have hit back, saying that many of these sites closed were not storage reservoirs and were just used to stored small amounts of treated water.
Speaking to edie, a Thames Water spokesperson said: "They did not store raw water and were shut when improvements to our water supply network made them redundant.

"Other sites listed (by the GMB) were only ever treatment works for water stored elsewhere, or were part of the distribution system, and at least one was actually part of the wastewater network and nothing to do with drinking water."

He added: "To put things into perspective, the site on the list which would have stored the largest amount of water was the four raw water reservoirs at Barnes, which were made redundant when the London Ring Main was opened in the 1990s. The site is now the London Wetland Centre. The total capacity of those reservoirs was sufficient to supply London's current needs for around 24 hours."

To tackle the situation, GMB wants to see Thames Water open the disused Severn Thames canal course to transfer water into the south east and prevent it from running off into the sea.

However, Thames Water said that while it is considering several water network transfer schemes as part of its 2014 Water Resource Management Plan, which include plans to build a new reservoir in the Severn Valley that "none could be completed in a timescale that could help us in the current drought", adding that "the canal option would require many years of work to bring derelict sections of the canal back into use".

This follows on from criticism made last week by the Green Party, which also blamed the hosepipe ban and UK drought on "water mismanagement" by water companies.
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PostSubject: Re: Drought - The Greatest threat to our rivers?   Thu May 03, 2012 6:00 pm

We are told that transferring water from the north to the south would take billions of pounds and the pipework
would take years to complete.Yet we have in place a canal system running from south to north,could drawing water from this via strategically placed pumping stations be a cheaper,quicker viable solution,or is canal water the wrong type?
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PostSubject: Re: Drought - The Greatest threat to our rivers?   Fri May 04, 2012 5:16 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Drought - The Greatest threat to our rivers?   Mon May 07, 2012 11:55 pm

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/may/07/water-companies-cut-leaks-2015-drought

More than half of water companies will not be required to reduce their leakages by a single drop before 2015, despite the worst drought in 25 years. Data obtained by the Guardian from the regulator Ofwat also shows the entire water industry will cut leaks by only 1.5% in that time.

Every day, 3.4bn litres of water leaks from the system, almost a quarter of the entire supply. After two years of low rainfall, drought has been declared across southern and central England, with no end in sight for the hosepipe ban imposed in many places. The wettest April on record has revived rivers, but groundwater reserves remain low as the water runs off hardened ground.

Since the privatisation of the water industry in 1989, Ofwat has set leakage reduction targets for the 21 water companies, which operate local monopolies across England and Wales. Analysis of the data, supplied to Ofwat by the companies themselves, revealed:

• Eleven companies have targets of zero reduction of leaks by 2015. They include Yorkshire Water, which failed to meet its 2010-11 targets and as a result was required to spend an additional £33m on leak repairs.

• Leaks have been reduced across England and Wales by only 5% over the past 13 years.

• The worst-performing company, Southern Water, which supplies Sussex, Kent, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, missed its latest leak target by 16% and had to pay £5m back to customers, but will be allowed to increase its leakage by 6% by 2015.

• The 25-year management plans of the water companies envisage reducing leakage by only 10% in that time.

Ofwat and the water industry highlight a one-third reduction in leakages since privatisation, but over the past 12 years, year-on-year leakages have increased as often as they have fallen, suggesting no long-term downward trend.

The average annual customer bill for water has risen by £64 since 2001 and is now £376, while the companies collectively made £2bn in pre-tax profits and paid £1.5bn in dividends to shareholders in 2010-11.

"Clearly there are vested interests at play," said Gavin Shuker, the shadow water minister. "It costs more to repair leaks than the immediate value of the water itself, so while it makes sense for a water company to ignore leaks, it certainly doesn't stack up in the long term for us, the consumers, or for our environment. Yet the government appears to have dropped its water bill from the forthcoming Queen's speech. What will it take to ensure ministers start holding these offshore-owned water companies to account?"

A government spokesman told the Guardian that leakage targets were set to be reviewed in the light of the drought, and an interim verbal agreement had been struck with water companies that extra efforts would be made to tackle leakage. But no new targets have been set. "We have to find a balance between the need to fix leaks with keeping water bills affordable for people," he said.

The 1.5% reduction in leaks will be supplemented by measures to reduce water usage such as more efficient taps and toilets and the installation of meters, said a spokesman for Ofwat. Both actions together will cut just under 2% from current daily usage.

"In the last six years, we have made companies failing on leakage pay out more than £200m from their own pockets to put problems right," said the Ofwat spokesman. "During a period of drought, companies need to step up to the plate and do more. We also need to take a long term view: climate change and more households will stretch water supplies even further in coming years."

A spokesman for the trade body Water UK, which represents the 21 water companies, said: "Water companies take leakage and their customers' views of leakage extremely seriously. It is fair to focus on the agreed leakage targets [but] the cost to make the system completely watertight would be simply unaffordable for consumers' water bills."

A House of Lords report on 3 May recommended that water bills increase to help reduce usage.

Southern Water said severe winters in 2009-10 and 2010-11 had caused it to miss its targets. "Two exceptionally cold winters saw pipes burst at an alarming, record high rate," said a spokesman. He said the company, whose customers' bills rose by an above-average £82 from 2001-2011, delivered one of the lowest levels of leakage per property of the 21 water companies, with 16% of supplies lost overall. The weakening in the target set by Ofwat was because Southern's leakage targets were "reprofiled" after the severe winters.

There are more than 210,000 miles of water pipes across England and Wales, a length equivalent to eight times the circumference of the Earth, which serve 23m properties. Ofwat said it would cost £100bn to replace all the pipes in England and Wales, which would cut leaks by only 50% because even new pipes quickly leak. The water industry has invested just under £100bn in infrastructure since 1989.

Tony Smith, chief executive of the Consumer Council for Water, said: "Ofwat's approach to setting leakage targets needs to recognise customers' perception that water companies are not doing enough about their leaky pipes. It's not just about economics. The negative perception of leakage is the biggest barrier to customers doing more to save water."

• This article has been amended on May 7 to remove the assertion that water companies have no targets on reducing leaks
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PostSubject: Re: Drought - The Greatest threat to our rivers?   Tue May 08, 2012 10:11 am

"More than half of water companies will not be required to reduce their leakages by a single drop before 2015, despite the worst drought in 25 years."

Shocked
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PostSubject: Re: Drought - The Greatest threat to our rivers?   Tue May 08, 2012 11:33 am

OFWAT is simply not fit for purpose, a much tougher regulatory regime is required.
This privatisation of public services was all very well in theory, but only works in the long term if the regulator is really hard-nosed and mean about every aspect of the service operation.

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PostSubject: Re: Drought - The Greatest threat to our rivers?   Fri May 11, 2012 12:59 am

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PostSubject: Re: Drought - The Greatest threat to our rivers?   Fri May 11, 2012 3:43 pm

Latest Monthly water report. Still makes grim reading for ground water levels.

http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/static/documents/Research/Water_Situation_report_WET_April_2012.pdf

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PostSubject: Re: Drought - The Greatest threat to our rivers?   Tue May 15, 2012 1:13 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Drought - The Greatest threat to our rivers?   Tue May 22, 2012 9:37 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Drought - The Greatest threat to our rivers?   Fri Aug 31, 2012 3:23 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Drought - The Greatest threat to our rivers?   Fri Sep 07, 2012 6:53 am

Its getting grim again after pictures with water around my waist on the river fly posts i checked the riverfly location and found the river at 200mm.
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