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Barbara Young On water resources

'We are in the worst drought for 100 years in some places - it is not looking good, ' she says. 'We are asking water companies to bring in hose pipe bans before the garden watering season starts. There's no point in kidding folk that they are going to be able to water plants this summer. They're not.' There is, she says, an interesting question for the future: Do ministers actually have the power to impose preemptive usage restrictions on private water companies?

'Water companies don't want to upset their customers or look like they have got it wrong.

But the longer you wait to take action the more devastating it is if it doesn't rain.' Water eficiency is high on her list of action. 'We want compulsory metering in all areas that are gong to be water-scarce in the future and we are working with ministers at the moment towards an agreement.' Water companies are in her sights over this issue. 'We want the regulator to look at some of the biggest leakage companies to see if they can move faster. If you get metering going then you have a much better chance of knowing where the leaks are.' The problem is critical, she insists, highlighting London as an example. 'Thames has failed to hit its leakage targets and it is about to fail again, ' she explains. 'Thames is mercifully not the shortest of water but another dry summer and we will have standpipes in the streets of London.'

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