Sunday, March 12, 2006

Water Shortage

As anyone who will tell you who has been living in London the past week, we have been seeing headlines of water shortage, hosepipe and sprinkler ban to come into effect, as well as compulsory water metering

Homes forced to get water meters

Q&A: Compulsory water meters

Now this really gets my back up a great great deal. I am not too concerned with the idea of hosepipe ban and a sprinkler ban; I think personally most can get by without having to use a hosepipe or sprinkler. What upsets me the most is the idea that a water company is allowed to force people to have water meters. This is absurd, seriously absurd.

When the privatisation of water was done back in the 80s under Thatcher, it was done with the intention that they would bring the water supply up to scratch, ensure that there was reduced number of leaks and proper investment. What a surprise, none of that happened, shucks, I should have seen that one coming. Here we are a public need, i.e. water, and it was sold to private investors, whom were asked, stress the word asked to bring the aging system up to scratch. Well the best part of 20 years later, and no progress has been made, in fact, in many areas, things are actually worse than when the privatisation occurred.

So for a company to ask for compulsory water metering is a laugh, and the fact they were granted it as well, shows just how bad things are. For instance Thames Water loses about 33% of its water each and every day through it leaking water system. 33%, that is absurd amount of water, and they want us to take better care with water. Fine I can understand the consumer taking more care, but to suggest that the consumer is the real source of the problem misses the bigger picture. If lets say on the conservative side that Thames Water pumps 1 billion litres of water through the system each day, which I understand is about right, then you are losing 333 million litres of water each day through leaks. You would think the business model for that would say that is a serious problem, a very serious problem. Nope, that one goes over their heads.

If you want to fix the problem of water shortage, here are some of the solutions.

1) Fix the bloody leaks, the figures are higher now than when privatisation took place, so until they fix the water leaks to below 10% then they aren’t allowed to raise prices, demand compulsory water metering or anything, simple, easy to do and enforce, and in the south east a big big issue, with low levels of rainfall in the past couple of years.

2) Take a leaf out the New York water board books. When they in the past had a problem with needing to build a new reservoir, because of high demand. They were forced to look at other solutions. Guess what they did, they ensured that all the toilets in the houses for that area were low flush loos. And guess what happened, my oh my, shock of horror, they found they didn’t need the reservoir, because there wasn’t enough need for it, as the water they saved from installing low flush loos meant enough water to go around. What has been the water companies response to a similar situation here, oh put in a toilet hippo, as if that will do anything. If they ensure that the toilets are low flush then that firstly helps a lot, and secondly if they were to use recycled water, say from washing machine or washing dishes, then it is well used water. Heck many countries in Europe do the same thing, can’t see that being a problem, so why are we so reluctant in this country.

3) Stop the government from forcing more people into London and South East, and stop the idea of building so many homes in the Thames Gateway when it simply can’t cope already, and the homes that are to be built are on low lying flood plains. Umm, did I miss a geography lesson there, if you build on the flood plains, you are inviting trouble, simple as. The government should not being building so many properties in London, shouldn’t be building high rise blocks, also shouldn’t be squeezing more and more people onto an ever smaller piece of land. Where I am in London, there is a proposal to build a 19 storey high block of apartments/flats, whatever you want to call them, and there is no need for them, homes are constantly being split into ever smaller and smaller dwellings which means that more and more people using fewer and fewer resources. And what a surprise, this government is intent of killing the golden goose called London.

4) Educate people on how to use water properly, stop them running taps whilst brushing their teeth, encourage showers, help people to setup water recycling in the their homes, encourage people to wash their clothes on full loads, to reuse the water they have, boil less water in a kettle, etc. I mean this is simple ideas, which when enacted should do something

When these ideas have been exhausted, then consider doing something like a water meter, but I can bet money, that you won’t need to, because these ideas above will save a lot of water, and suddenly we will find we have excess instead of not enough.
It is like the brains of the government were stolen, nope that is being too kind, they never had any in the first place, and people like the environment minister simply can’t see the bigger picture.

Please bang together the heads of the government, the water companies with a wall called common sense, when that is done, come back to me, I will be more than happy to oblige.

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