Protecting the availability of water in the UK

Listeners to the BBC News woke up this morning (30th March 2009) to hear a report that the Head of the Environment Agency was calling for the more rapid implementation of near universal water metering that as Duncan says in his review has only taken five hundred years to implement so far. My thought was also about how long things take as most of the headline news coverage was based on a position statement on household metering reported on the Environmental Agency’s web site and last updated on the 29th November 2008.

Why then does it suddenly become headline news? Could it be that apart from Jackie Smith’s demeanours there was no other news? Perhaps there is a slightly more convoluted reason. The privatised water utilities are in the process of putting in their wish lists to their regulator Ofwat, proposing how much they wish to spend and on what over the next five years. Has the EA had a ‘peak’ at the list and decided to let Ofwat know that the companies are not being adventurous enough with their metering plans, particularly those that are in the hardest hit South East?

As is stated in the solutions that they call for in their position statement the EA states:

  • Ofwat should recognise that tariffs help with the sustainability of resources
  • Ofwat should recognise that smart meters could help reduce demand

Behind these statements I suspect lies a level of politically wrangling that makes the public debate about politicians expenses look very third division. Well thank goodness for that, the EA is really starting to stand up for the UK and its water environment. We should be really pleased that the EA has decided to fight the cosy little relationship between the Water Utilities and Ofwat both of whom seem more concerned with short term markets than ensuring a long term sustainable future.

Update (16/11/2016): Featured image added from this source.

Roger Ford

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