We’ve been in drought for a month and it’s not likely to disappear anytime soon.
Whilst I don’t have an ideological position on the Thatcher government’s privatisation of public utilities per se, there was never case for creating a set of private monopolies to manage this, literally, vital resource.
The main problem is that the current model provides no mechanism for improving water security:
- Local water companies are monopolies, so that, unlike gas, electricity and telephones, they have no motive for improving the quality of their services.
- Water companies are commercial organisations trying to make a profit: so why should they encourage people to use less water? It’s like saying that Heinz should sell fewer tins of baked beans.
- If you are a customer of Thames Water, you have the bonus of knowing that some of these profits are going straight into the pockets of the Chinese Government.
- If water companies fail to meet legal or regulatory targets, they are fined. The fine is ultimately paid by their customers and means that either there is less money to improve infrastructure and services or prices have to go up.
My solution (for what it’s worth):
- We’re in the middle of a recession. One of the best things you can do in a recession is to improve infrastructure. This provides real and worthwhile work for unemployed people and … erm …improves the infrastructure. So:
– Start fixing pipes to reduce leaks.
– Start fitting water meters to properties that don’t have them
- Bring English and Welsh water back into public ownership (when funds available)
- Promote the concept of water footprints so that it is as familiar as the concept of carbon footprints
Save bath water* and use it to:
- Top up the water barrel in the garden (see pictures)
- Flush the toilet (pictures not available)
I’ve found that empty 4 pt milk containers are ideal for both purposes.