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National water grid unrealistic, say suppliers

WATER COMPANIES this week dismissed plans for a national water grid as unrealistic on economic and environmental grounds.

Their comments came after the Environment Agency announced it is conducting a preliminary study in to the cost of creating such a grid at the request of the Department for the Environment Food & Rural Affairs. In their 25 year water resource plans, produced in 2004, water companies did not consider a north south water transfer system as a viable resource.

'We have not changed our view on that. It is not realistic in terms of costs to the economy or the environment, ' said Water UK communications director Barrie Clarke.

An Agency spokeswoman conceded that the scheme was unlikely to be viable because of the high environmental and financial costs, but said ministers wanted to be sure that all options have been considered.

'This was last looked at seriously in the 1970s by the Water Resources Board so the government wants us to review it and see if things have changed.'

The main aim of a grid would be to move water from the north west to the south east. Water could be transferred after treatment through a pipe network, or before treatment through rivers and canals.

A piped network would cost millions to build and moving water a long way would generate massive pumping costs. Moving untreated water between rivers could reduce water quality and alter the ecology of rivers.

The canal network has a limited capacity and water movement could act against traf'c 'ow.

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