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26 November 2012
Instead national planning is needed with a single body like the Water Resources Board given enough money and responsibility to deal with both flood defences and drought and metering should be downgraded says GMB
GMB, the union for water workers, commented on the flooding that is widespread across the country and on the official policy of Environment Agency, OFWAT, Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee and others that water in parts of the UK is over- abstracted and that water needs to be saved by higher prices using meters. See notes to editors for statements from some bodies.
Gary Smith, GMB National Secretary for energy and utilities, said“The notion that water is scarce in the UK is idiotic as the pictures of widespread flooding show. Yet, unbelievably, this ridiculous idea serves as the basis for public policy for water industry.
The top priorities for water, of flood defences at times of heavy rainfall in areas prone to flooding and having enough capacity to transfer and store water from areas of plenty to areas with shortages at times of low rainfall, are downgraded as a direct result of such nonsense.
Across the UK we divert less that 2% of the rain that falls to human and industrial use and in the South East less than 10%.
Yet scarce money is being spent to promote competition and to save water and billions of pounds that should be spent on these priorities have been paid out in dividends to shareholders in a natural monopoly.
Highly experienced directly employed water workers have been laid off and replaced with contractors with no knowledge of river flows and weirs and sluices. Along the Thames for example resident lock keepers are being replaced with workers unable to get to the river at times of flooding.
It is no surprise that the water companies have a vested interest to pretend that water is scarce and to close down and sell urban reservoirs for development. An example is the reservoirs in Barn Elms in London that stored 600 million gallons of water which are now closed and parts are used for luxury housing. (pictured on GMB website with this release)
It is high time to recognize that the Thatcherite privatisation of the water industry has been an extremely costly mistake. It should be reversed. It should not be pursued in Northern Ireland of Scotland.
Adequate resources should found for flood defences in areas prone to flooding and to set up enough capacity to transfer and store water from areas of plenty to areas with shortages when low rainfall happens again as it will.
National planning is needed with a single body like the Water Resources Board given enough money and responsibility to deal with both flood defences and drought. Water metering should be downgraded.”