The UK Commons Select Committee published a damning report today continuing “Some areas are facing shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic. The responsible bodies – the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (the Department), the Environment Agency and Ofwat – have collectively taken their “eye off the ball” and urgent action is now required if we are to have a reliable water supply in the years ahead.”
“Over 3 billion litres, a fifth of the volume used, is lost to leakage every day. Despite this, no progress has been made in reducing leakage over the last 20 years. The government’s weak efforts to encourage reductions in water consumption have achieved very little. Water companies have at least now been given tougher targets to make improvements, but we are calling for the responsible bodies to go further, and annually publish clear performance tables so that the government and the water companies can be properly held to account.”
“Government has been too slow to implement policies that could improve water efficiency such as product labelling and changes to building regulations. Nor has it done enough to resolve the tension that water companies face between needing to invest in infrastructure to improve water supply and the pressure to keep water bills affordable for consumers, particularly where consumers say they are prepared to pay more.”
“We are sceptical about the effectiveness of water companies’ efforts to mitigate environmental damage and are not convinced the UK’s net zero emissions target has been sufficiently embedded in the oversight and regulation of the industry. The Department has shown a lack of leadership in getting to grips with these issues. We look now to the Department to step up, make up for lost time and ensure all parties act with the urgency required.”
Save the Planet .Org says that it is time that UK water authorities stopped sending begging letters to their consumers asking them to conserve water when they have failed to take action to stop leaks that are wasting millions of gallons of water across the country, every day.
The irony of this will not be lost on householders who witnessed the abundance of water (inside their own homes) as a result of severe flooding earlier this year. Living in one of the wettest countries in Western Europe appears to be no guarantee of a water supply in the future, it seems.
Perhaps it is time that the water companies ceased maximising profits and paying dividends to shareholders until they achieve meaningful leakage targets, renumerating their board members for failure and instead, used their “profits” to invest in our national water infrastructure as they are paid to do.
Then, if they cannot achieve a very significant turnaround, it will be time to renationalise our water industry – before the nation’s taps run dry.