At times like these – when a hosepipe ban is introduced – it’s typical to roll our eyes and wonder how such a rain-soaked country can find itself short of water. But it’s actually a myth that the whole of Britain is permanently soaked. The north and much of the west are fairly wet, but the south and east of England have much less rainfall.
Believe it or not, London receives less rainfall per year than Paris, Istanbul and Rome. When you then consider that London has a population of almost 8 million, to Paris and Rome’s less than 3 million, you can start to see the scale of the problem. Then add the millions of people in areas surrounding London to make things even worse. In short, the south east of England has too many people in it for the amount of rain received.
A further problem is the way the English use their water. An average English person uses 148 litres per day compared to the European average of 130 litres. Then there’s the fact we hate the idea of water meters.
It’s arguable that water supplies from the wetter north could be brought south via pipelines, but the energy and money required to do this make it very difficult to carry out. Then there are the politics and business issues involved in making private water companies work together.
A much more radical idea is to move large numbers of the population further north. Sound ridiculous? The government and major organisations such as the BBC have been attempting do this for a few years by moving large chunks of their operations further north. This allows them to cut down on the costs associated with running buildings in London. Inevitably it moves their staff north also.
So perhaps a longer-term way of looking at this and the associated population problem is not to move water south, but move people north away from the vastly over-populated south-east.
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