Bloomberg News

U.K. Urged to Safeguard Water After Drought Curbs Supply

June 06, 2012

The U.K. should build new water storage facilities and introduce tariffs that reward lower water usage to avert future supply shortages, the Institution of Civil Engineers said.

The group said in a report today that Britain isn’t doing enough to ensure safe water supplies after a 22-month drought. Parts of England have water use restrictions after two dry winters depleted underground reservoirs.

Seven water companies including Anglian Water, Southern Water Ltd. and Veolia Environnement SA (ALTEV)’s Water Southeast unit started temporary limits on the use of garden hoses from April 5. The drought is a “wake up call,” according to the ICE.

“We are a populous nation facing a growing gap between what we can supply and what our water users need,” Michael Norton, chairman of the ICE’s water panel, said in a statement accompanying the report today. “Sadly it’s only when hose-pipe bans are inflicted on us that the public has any glimpse of this reality.”

The government should create a U.K. Water Security Taskforce to ensure supply meets demand for all by 2025, as climate change and population growth place pressure on resources, according to the report.

The wettest April in more than 100 years of records ended the drought in some areas, while failing to replenish water tables in eastern England.

Low Value

The government, water companies and regulators should work to cut consumption by 30 percent from the current 150 liters per person per day, the ICE said. Measures include universal metering and discretionary tariffs that also protect the poor.

“The single biggest problem is the low value we place on water,” Norton said in the statement.

The report also called for the removal of regulatory barriers that discourage water companies from collaborating on new infrastructure investment. Prime Minister David Cameron’s administration promised draft legislation this year that would spur competition in the water industry and encourage investment needed to keep supplies flowing.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sally Bakewell in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at

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