UK water developments over the ‘summer’

Roger and I have both been away during our rather lousy ‘summer’, hence our momentary lapse in terms of new Waterstink posts. At the same time, the simultaneous floods and hosepipe bans of the past few months – particularly in our part of the world, the North West – managed to catch the attention of the national media. I was rather briefly embroiled in all this, at least a little bit… I’ll explain exactly what went on below.

Over the summer months I was contacted by the team from ITV1’s Tonight programme. At first, as is probably the normal reaction of many people these days, I thought the initial email from the Tonight team was spam! After a bit of routine checking and some ‘phone calls it all turned out to be legitimate. They were making an episode that highlighted United Utilities‘ hosepipe ban, alongside some interviews with the usual suspects (the water companies, regulators and so on) about the pressures on the UK’s Victorian water infrastructure caused by climate change and increasing water consumption – and, making a refreshing change, they also included views from a reasonably wide variety of different water users.

Sadly – even though I’m not too much of a glory-seeker these days, it must be said, and wasn’t that bothered – I didn’t end up being featured on the final programme. I must say though, it was quite exciting and a great feeling just to have some input into the research behind the show. Overall I was very happy that the show was being made and that someone was raising, on national TV, some of the issues that Roger and I have been harping on about for years.

I must admit though, even though the idea that we emphasise the most here at Waterstink is quite simple – i.e. that the water industry’s ways of working are extremely dated and bring everything they try to do down in some way or another – it’s another matter trying to put this across within a short TV programme that’s trying to keep so many balls in the air at once. What we are saying is an important critical point to get across of course. The ways the water industry tries to tackle floods, drought, leakage, climate change, customer relations and so on, ultimately all come back to their attitudes and track record in terms of adoption (or not) of appropriate innovations. These innovations are often the norm in other businesses and parts of the world. Aversion to new ways of doing things really holds them back – and nobody pushes them (much) to do better. It’s all very incremental, risk averse and – ultimately – delivers poor value to everyone concerned, as we’ve stated time and time again…

At any rate, I believe the final show went out on 12 August, entitled: Where Does All Our Water Go? It may still be available via ITV’s iPlayer-esque, on-demand player. I haven’t been able to check at the time of writing. Using the above link though, I’m sure you’ll be able to read a useful synopsis of the show.

If any other developments like this crop up in the coming months, we’ll be sure to share them ASAP… Probably we’ll try to make more use of our Twitter page to flash up things like this too. (With the rapid ups and downs of media-related situations like this, things do tend to change from minute to minute, hour to hour, making Twitter an ideal tool… It’s a shame we’re still just finding our feet with it… but we promise to try harder!)

Duncan Thomas


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