We’ve had a dry winter. Fair enough. Now the water companies are panicking that we are getting dangerously low on water supplies, particularly in the SE of the country. They threaten a hosepipe ban in April! TV is full of glum environmentalists moaning about how low the rivers and streams are. Has it escaped everyone’s notice that in 1976, the year that’s been referred to as ‘the worst up to now’ that the UK had a population of some 56 million people. The immigration policies of the last Labour government has seen the population rocket to 62 million in the period 2001-2008. The growth rate is the highest since 1962, during the “baby boom” years. The Office of National Statistics says the UK population has increased by 3.1 million people between 2001 and 2010. The House of Commons library recently estimated that the figure could exceed 70 million by 2026, three years earlier than previous official estimates We are building more and more new houses, particularly in the South East. Every spare plot of land seems to be given over to some sort of housing. I read the other day they demolished cooling towers at a site near Rochester, Kent, 300 acres no doubt ready for prime housing development. This is all part of the Thames Gateway project, much of which has been accomplished. Did it never occur to those ‘strategic’ planners that more people mean more resources, including more water usage? I don’t think you need a degree from Oxbridge to work that one out. And what is the latest wheeze? Provide incentives to house builders so that they can build even more new homes … Since the average home uses somewhere in the region of 150 cubic meters of water a year, the 1500 new homes at the Bridge, near Dartford, will be consuming an additional water supply that equates to nearly a quarter of a million (250,000) cubic meters of water EXTRA, and that doesn’t by any extent include all of the new homes in the area.
By the way, a quick way to convert cubic meters of water into liters of water is to multiply by 1000, i.e. add three 000s to the number. So 250,000 cubic meters as above, becomes 250,000,000 litres (now we’re really talking
telephone numbers Bankers Bonuses!)
Bewl Water Reservoir, managed by Southern Water, is reportedly just 42% full, rather than its normal 88% at this time of year. According to the figures, that is about 12,000 mega litres (that’s 12,000,000,000 or twelve billion). My rough calculation indicates that Bewl equates to 4% of total water requirement. Residents in Sussex are equally unimpressed by the Water Companies. Either way, all these extra properties and extra residents are putting an undue strain on an already badly managed water supply. South East Water has approx 2 million customers (that’s 300 million cubic meters of water a year) and has published a drought plan. Whew! In the SEW Drought Plan Non-Technical-Summary, you see there is an objective to install water meters into 90% of homes by 2020. How that is supposed to help, I don’t know!
Another contradiction that puzzles me: we are told that paving over our gardens in some way ‘wastes’ the water that rains on our gardens, but its OK for the developers to build massive housing estates on previously brown-belt land. We are also villified for watering our gardens if we don’t choose to cover over the green stuff. Either way its wrong.
Its not that we are wasteful of water, its not that we are putting the sprinkler on the garden or washing the car with the hose pipe, its that all these extra people are using a resource and that is putting pressure on supply. How come the water companies have so many burst water pipes unmended? Just the other week, roadworks locally seemed to be the cause of yet another massive loss of water. Poor management is to blame. Let’s hope they are not going to palm off the cost onto the residents – or is that just pie in the sky?
Update: spoke too soon. In the Metro on 14 March we read that water bills will rise, some by 8%, way above inflation, just days before the restrictions kick in. Southern Water will charge 8.2% extra, meaning an average extra of £20 a year. Even more galling is that the water companies are making about £1.5 BILLION in profit, despite a report that shows that of the 14.6 billion litres of water provided EVERY DAY in 2011-12, a quarter of it was leaks. The leaks account for FIVE times the amount that will be saved by a hosepipe ban.
Thames Water leaked 673 MILLION litres of water every day, (a whopping 245,645,000,000 a year) yet its CEO Margin Baggs earned £1.6 MILLION last year – old money-Baggs, eh? They are bleeding us dry so their profits and pay remain liquid and healthy.
Oh, and there’s the little issue of the 2012 Olympics. It is estimated that 5.5 million visitors a day will come to the London area over the Games period. And they’ll want a bath. I think I’ll start buying bottled water now before the price rockets.
I find myself speechless at this point – I need a coffee if I can afford to run the tap to fill the kettle.