Hose Pipe Bans are Imminent
So here we are. We have to ration water and impose hosepipe bans for many years. This is because in the main we don’t have sufficient water storage facilities (reservoirs) to cope with the variations in the weather and keep the taps flowing.
Our privatised water companies have however had the resources to be able to pay over £50 billion in shareholder dividends since the previously nationalised companies were privatised.
I’m not against privatisation on the whole, but privatising any non competing company is a nonsense. Whether it’s trains, water, electric, gas. What they have privatised at best is the billing company, not the actual company. You can’t choose between two trains going from A to B, you either go on the available train or you don’t. The only competitor to that train journey is either private car travel, taxi, a bus or maybe even a plane. (Which will also be cheaper somehow?)
Which ever company you choose for your electricity, you get the same electricity out of your sockets. They don’t magically supply you from their own supply. So they are billing companies and as we saw recently, the billing companies who had signed the least flexible, worst value deals quickly went bust as prices increased.
That is not competition.
Water companies do not have any competitors. They also provide a product that is essential to life.
We have faced water shortages many times before, so this is nothing new. The most famous of which was in the summer of 1976 when many of us had to use stand pipes in the street to get water.
Since then our population has grown massively. We have increased by 10 million in the last 20 years. England and Wales population has grown from 50 million to 60 million, or 20% to put it another way.
As we all know, in the same time period, we have increased hospital beds, Doctors, Nurses, Dentists, Reservoirs, Police, Power stations, GP’s, Prisons, Schools and Teachers all by at least 20% or more, which is why they all function so efficiently. (No we haven’t & no they don’t. I was attempting irony).
We built our last reservoir (Carsington) in 1991.
The strategy of water companies since 1991 has altered from having sufficient infrastructure to supply their customers with water when they need it to instead promoting and implementing water efficiency measures. That means charging you and I more for our water until such a time as we start to use less of it.
It is after all far easier to price your customers out of using as much of your product as they need rather than build the infrastructure required to be able to provide the product you are paid to provide in sufficient quantities. Imagine how much investment would eat into dividend payments.
All the while, the processing of waste water is such a chore that UK water companies pump raw sewage direct into our rivers and streams rather than do what we pay them to do and process the damn waste. In 2021 this only happened a few hundred thousand times.
No water companies should be paying shareholders anything until they get their house in order and stop tipping untreated sewage into our rivers.
Don’t forget, we are a country, governed by people desperately pursuing net zero and planet saving whatever the cost, sanctioning the pollution of our waterways on a regular basis, hundreds of thousands of times per year. How does that square the circle?
They boldly claim to be able to reduce the temperature of the planet while not being able to keep raw sewage out of our rivers. Maybe they should start with a few baby steps and deal with the smaller things that they could actually fix?
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Water companies have instead focused on reducing usage instead of increasing supply. We should have plenty of water in the UK. We could have plenty of water in the UK, but it seems that no one has the common sense to have realised 30 years ago that a growing population would need more water.
Water companies have focused their attention on reducing usage via: metering, increased efficiency of water using appliances, Code for sustainable homes & greater demand management.
New homes built in the last few years have to have grey water tanks which is great, but they make up a minority of homes in the UK. Leakage is only addressed on an economic basis, not a preservation of resource basis.
Water leakage hasn’t reduced since 2000 and is running at around 3,000 million litres per day. During the 90’s water companies cut leakage by around 35% (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45033486) but the remaining leaks are not considered economic to fix.
My view is that water is either a precious commodity or it isn’t.