GMB slams the idea of a 'water quota' as 3 billion litres wasted every day
May 29 2018 Read 2009 Times
Privatised water companies have failed to look at the big picture of storing water that falls from the sky and moving it where it’s needed says GMB.
GMB, the water union, has criticised the government’s recommendation echoed today by the Environment Agency that people should have an individual daily water allowance.
The agency’s advice comes in spite of the facts that enough water to meet the needs of 20 million people is lost through leakage every day.
Water is not something that is scarce in the UK. We use less than 2% of the water that falls each year and which flows into the sea.
Alongside the repair of leaky pipes and upgrading and maintaining the UK’s water infrastructure, a key part of the solution is the movement of water to where it is needed.
In the area with highest forecast increase in demand, London and the South East, GMB has recently called for Thames Water and politicians to be bolder as additional water sources will be needed to meet ongoing demand and to avoid the near miss of running out of water in the drought of 2012.
Thames Water plans to reuse waste water from sewerage works above the weir at Teddington and from the Beckton sewerage works.This, they estimate, will yield 550 million litres per day. GMB is studying these proposals.
More contentious is the revived plans for a new Thames reservoir at Abingdon covering an area the size of Heathrow Airport.
This is forecast to supply 300 million litres per day after it is filled each winter. An earlier version of this plan was rejected by the planning system in 2010 and this latest draft is likely still to face opposition.
GMB has called on politicians and the public to urge Thames Water to be bolder and to move up the priority list a plan first developed by the Victorians to move water from the west of the UK via the Severn and the Cotswold canals and Sapperton Tunnel into the Thames.
This is covered in the Thames Water Plan but is not included in the current list of things Thames Water plan to do.
There are also proposals to move water from the Midlands via the Oxford canal.
Thames Water acknowledges that any serious interruption in water supply to the region would cost a staggering £330 million every day.As London and the South East are the engine room of the UK economy, this is not something that can be put at risk.
Thames Water should accept the water being offered by United Utilities from Lake Vymwy and get it to the Thames via the restoration of the Cotswold canals and Sapperton Tunnel.
This has the capacity to supply 300 million litres per day and as a bonus, the canals are restored for leisure and recreational use.
Stuart Fegan, GMB National Officer, said: “Pressuring everyone to use less of this most basic necessity through ever rising bills and water meters is not the solution.
“When the equivalent of 20 million people’s worth of daily water consumption is lost from leaky pipes because privatised water companies have prioritised dividends for shareholders in favour of infrastructure spend.
“No wonder the call from the UK public grows ever louder for the water industry to be returned to public ownership.
“Privatised regional water companies have failed to look at the big picture of storing more of the water that falls in this country and moving it to where it is needed.
“It is clear to almost everyone it seems except Government and the EA that water infrastructure in the UK needs serious investment.
“Privatised water companies are unable to take care of this most basic task and by repeatedly putting profits of shareholders before the interests of our people they themselves make the case for the return of water to public ownership.
"GMB is calling on politicians and the public to urge Thames Water to be bolder and to move up the priority list a plan first developed by the Victorians to move water from the west of the UK via the Severn and the Cotswold canals and Sapperton Tunnel into the Thames.
“This is covered in the plan but is not included in the current list of things Thames Water plan to do.
“GMB urges everyone to push for this common sense and financially viable solution.
“Water is not something that is scarce in the UK, in fact quite the contrary: we use less than 2% of the water that falls from the sky each year and which flows into the sea.”
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