Environment Minister Lord Rooker cheered up the House of Lords yesterday when he informed the Noble Lords that the winter had produced “the right kind of rain”, adding that “it filled the aquifers and the reservoirs”. It was he said the wettest winter on record since 1914 and stated “As a result, most reservoir and groundwater levels are normal for the time of year. Consequently, the outlook for water supply is much improved on recent years.”
He wouldn’t rule out the possibility of compulsory water metering in “water-stress” areas and also mentioned that all water companies except Thames were now operating at their economic leakage level. He did indicate that despite building new reservoirs, plugging leaks and forcing meters on people, hosepipe bans were still the most effective way of reducing water consumtion when needed. “such measures can cut consumer demand by 5 to 15 per cent.” Lord Rooker said.
So, following on from the post we made on Monday when we questioned whether or not there would in fact be water restrictions this year, Lord Rooker’s answers to the upper house seem to confidently suggest there won’t be this year although we wouldn’t say there was 100% confidence. It was also interesting to hear that although he did believe water supplies from reservoirs would meet demand, he wasn’t as sure about the near future and indeed the situation for the crops we grow in this country this summer. See what you make of his summarising statement:
“We are subject to the vagaries of the weather, but we have enough water. The 2004-06 period in south-east England was similar in severity to the worst drought of the past 100 years. Drought orders were granted in a few areas to limit or prohibit the non-essential use of water. Only one company—Sutton and East Surrey Water—found it necessary to exercise its powers in the past year, and then not to the full extent possible. One cannot say what will happen this year, but we are confident that with current water supplies we should be okay this summer if the weather is as dry. I do not deny that although reservoirs are full there is still a problem, because if there is no rain there is a problem with crops and so forth. However, the water supply should be okay. The programme of planning for new reservoirs, the water companies’ plans and all the other long-term issues are proceeding as planned.”