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Water down the drain

Richard North, 15/03/2012  


Today, the Daily Mail is waxing indignant about the water shortage in the South and East, after we broached the subject a few days ago. Picking up on the time taken to fix leaks, the paper observes that Thames Water is "wasting millions of litres a day", thus observing that it is no wonder that we now have a hosepipe ban.

Surprisingly though, the paper doesn't look at the bigger picture – and has not always been so critical of water companies. It took The Guardian to do that, last year, when it noted that in 2009/10 Thames Water lost through leaks 669.9 million litres of water a DAY – equal to 32 percent of the total it delivered.

But even then, we do not see the full picture. Annualised, that leakage rate is 54 billion gallons a year, or more than ten percent of the total 520 billion gallon storage capacity for the whole of England and Wales – more than the current shortfall which is recorded at ten percent.

Thus, this one water authority alone wastes in one year more than the amount needed to make up the entire supply deficit that is giving raise to the current water restrictions.

With water bills imminent, one really does get sick of the water companies and their special pleading. Of course they have technical and logistical problems, but they are also local monopolies, which give water users no choice as to their suppliers.

Each year, they are there with their hands out, demanding more and more money – and this year will be just the same. And each year, they fail to perform, denying the very rationale on which privatisation was based … that they would be able to provide the capital needed to deal with the failing infrastructure.

Add to this the failure to deal with the issue of increased demand from a growing population, and we have a glorious mess for which the "customer" is being required to pay. Why we put up with it, I really do not know.

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