June 13, 2012
Almost daily on the news there are items relating to water: drought after record rain; rain in flaming June or floods after record investments in defences! But today was probably one of the most alarming with the very security of the UK’s water supply under threat according to the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE), or at least at a critical point and decisive action demanded to safeguard future water resources.
After unveiling their Water Report the ICE warned that the urgency and severity of the UK’s water issues are still not properly understood and that the recent droughts have been a “wake-up call” as they rate the UK’s current water security level as 4 on a scale of 1-10, and in response they are now calling for the creation of a UK Water Security Taskforce to deliver an integrated roadmap to water security by spring 2014, based on strategic plans from all Governments in the UK.
It proposes that the roadmap includes “time-bound steps” to increase water security to level 8 or 9, which it predicts could lift the UK’s water resources out of danger by 2025.
Their proposals include the development of new water storage facilities across the country, the removal of regulatory barriers that discourage water sharing between neighbouring companies and collaborative investment in new infrastructure. A good, old fashioned, coordinated, common sense approach to the situation.
However, Michael Norton, ICE water panel chair did warn that there is no “silver bullet solution” to the current situation. He said: “We are a populous nation facing a growing gap between what we can supply and what our water users need. Sadly it’s only when hose-pipe bans are inflicted on us that the public has any glimpse of this reality. We have a valuable opportunity while water is in the forefront of the nation’s minds to impress on the public the real value of this resource and we mustn’t squander it.
“The changes ICE is recommending will require some upheaval to current regulations as well as firm decisions on how to forecast future demand, but once done we would see the effect relatively quickly.”
The report concluded that changing the pricing structures of water to reflect the “true value of water” and building smaller but more evenly distributed water storage facilities across the UK will also be “crucial” as the single biggest problem we face is the low value we place on water. It’s currently much undervalued and provided to most of us without limit.
Interestingly we are one of the few countries that provides drinking water quality water to flush our toilets and wash our cars and isn’t it about time that the water companies and house builders looked at dual water suppliers to our housing stock and a greater emphasis on grey water recycling to make this precious resource ‘go further’.
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