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Tap new water resources now

It is pleasing to see Antony Oliver's Comment bring to the fore the issues of water supply and the scarcity of water (NCE 8 May).

It must be evident to all that water resources are going to be one of the major challenges of the next decade and beyond.

Yes we can do more in the area of demand management but this may well be an initiative with diminishing returns and we must do more to look at the major water resources available to us.

Desalination is described as a "radical and expensive solution" – and it is – so let's look and let's look quickly at new water resource schemes and schemes to make more use of our existing resources.

We need to promote and build new reservoirs and we need to make more use of some of the existing reservoirs.

There are a large number of very cost effective schemes where existing dams can be raised to provide significant increases in stored water which then can be used directly for supply purposes or water transfer schemes, aquifer recharge schemes etcetera.

Many of these reservoir raising schemes can be "engineered" cheaply and achieved very quickly.

This even applies to new structures.

In both cases we have to spend time and money in meeting all the environmental hurdles.

My plea is not to forget the place reservoirs have within our society.

New reservoirs and in particular raising reservoirs can provide a significant resource and that we must streamline the planning and environmental applications to an appropriate timescale and level of expenditure.

ANDY HUGHES, director of dams, Atkins,

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