LETTER : Water under the bridge

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I WOULD be more comforted by Fred Pearce's assertion that "few of these deficiencies [in our water supply] can be put down to privatisation" if it did not blatantly contradict the experience of the citizens of Bradford ("Water anger everywhere but no one stops to think", 27 August).

In the 1930s Bradford ratepayers spent pounds 3m on the Nidd Valley Scheme. This guaranteed a water supply without any constraints until the creation of the regional water authorities in 1974. Then hosepipe bans became a nearly annual event, but we have had to wait for the boon of privatisation to undergo the threat of standpipes and/or water rationing.

After the wet winter Yorkshire Water was pleased to tell us that, because of their superior management skills, our reservoirs were full and there would never again be any restrictions on usage. With dramatic suddenness they then claimed that the reservoirs were in fact nearly empty and began to apply for drought orders.

A generation ago, Bradford must have been Britain's best supplied city. This year it is the one with the deepest crisis. In the intervening period its citizens have been the victims of scandalous incompetence. What has happened to our pounds 3m?

Michael Goodchild

Bradford, West Yorkshire

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