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UK’s water needs strategic and coherent approach

Michael_Norton

The ICE has backed a new report which urges Government to seize the opportunity and make real and lasting changes that will give the UK’s water resource a sustainable future.

The Blueprint for Water report, published last week by a coalition of environmental groups, measures the government’s performance against 10 steps to sustainable water by 2015.

It welcomed the progress made in some areas but warned that “the lurch between flooding and drought is damaging for people, businesses and wildlife “and called for a long-term, sustainable approach to water security.

The calls echo those set out in the ICE’s State of the Nation Water report published in June. The ICE said the UK’s water security was at a “critical point” and needed decisive and prompt action.

Commenting on the Blueprint for Water report, chairman of the ICE’s water panel Michael Norton said the report was “right to warn against our water resources being left to mercy of the weather.”

“The UK’s water security is at a critical point and this is far from a long term strategy. Government must face up to the reality that climate change is impacting on our ability to manage our water resources effectively.

“The recent heavy flooding has diverted the focus from drought; however, these are interdependent issues that must be addressed with a strategic and coherent approach.”

Norton said the Blueprint report made some “worthwhile recommendations”, but said the ICE believed further steps are required, including implementing water metering not only in water stressed areas, but universally, with complementary tariffs put in place to empower consumers to understand and manage their water consumption more effectively.

He also said more robust action was needed on the supply side if the UK is to close the demand/ supply imbalance and achieve water security. “Our State of the Nation report set out several recommendations for change” he said.

“From development of new water storage facilities across the country, to the removal of regulatory barriers that discourage water sharing between neighbouring water companies and collaborative investment in new multi-use infrastructure.”

Responding to the Blueprint for Water report, a Defra spokesperson said: “We know we are facing increasing pressures on our water supply and that is why we have published a draft Water Bill that will build resilience into our water infrastructure by creating the conditions to encourage innovation and reduce demand.

“The draft Bill will reduce red tape and drive innovation in the industry making it easier for water companies to work together to ensure we have secure water supplies for the future.”

Norton said he feared the Government’s draft Water Bill would do “very little to tackle the issue and disappointingly lacked a sense of urgency”.

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