Cross-country water transfer plans rejected: Putting showers in all new homes is proposed as one measure to beat drought. Nicholas Schoon reports
Friday 31 July 1992
The answer, he believes, lies in making people use less water. Yesterday, he launched a consultation paper which sets out government suggestions for controlling demand, now rising by 1 per cent a year. Ideas include making showers a compulsory feature of new houses, tougher water conservation standards for washing machines and toilet cisterns, and widespread water metering.
The drought has eased slightly because England and Wales have had more than a third above the average July rainfall. East Anglia, one of the driest regions, had 122 per cent of average June rainfall and by yesterday it had had 157 per cent of the July average.
The summer rain has reduced demand but done nothing to recharge ground water levels - now at record lows - in the chalk aquifers which supply much of the South and the East. Hosepipe bans still cover 6.75 million people from east Devon to Humberside, and parts of the Home Counties have tougher drought orders banning all non-essential use of water.
The National Rivers Authority and the British Waterways Board have proposed that canals and rivers could be used to transfer water across the country. This month, the Scottish Office minister for industry, Alan Stewart, said he was interested in Scotland selling surplus water to southern England. But yesterday, Mr Howard said that apart from being extremely costly, such schemes could be environmentally destructive. Fresh water from Wales and Scotland is more acidic and chemically different from the water in the chalk rivers of eastern and southern England. It could damage their wildlife if it entered these streams in bulk. Huge new reservoirs, which several water companies are seeking to build, eliminated familiar landscapes and their flora and fauna.
'Increasing demand for water is an inevitable result of rising living standards. We have to look at moderating some of the demand,' Mr Howard said.
Four dry years combined with heavy use of ground water have left miles of dry riverbed in the South and East. But Mr Howard did not think water consumption could be cut: only that the rate of increase could be slowed.
Suggestions include reviving the practice of water company staff visiting households to check for leaks and replacing worn tap washers free of charge; introducing water meters first of all for households with swimming pools, ponds or hoses; and setting mandatory targets for water companies to reduce mains leakage. About a quarter of Britain's tap water is lost between the treatment plant and final home use.
Efforts should also be made to persuade water companies to recycle water, and to charge them for the amount they take from rivers and boreholes. At present, they pay a flat fee for a licence.
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let's see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 2 Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
- 3 Belgium fan Axelle Despiegelaere lands L'Oreal campaign after World Cup viral photo
- 4 Britney Spears sings 'Alien' without Auto-Tune in embarrassing leaked audio clip
- 5 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
Instagram of US airport security chiefs: Lipstick knives and IED training kits among items seized
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Mick Jagger denies being World Cup curse and reason for Brazil’s embarrassing defeat
Israel-Gaza crisis: ‘We just want it to end… We don’t deserve to live like this’
Israel-Gaza crisis: Eight killed in Gaza Strip cafe while watching World Cup semi-final
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...
£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...
£33000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly successfu...
£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly ...