18 Nov 2010

Need changes to regulations re water

Back on 10th November I posted a blog about the recent Forum. This is the email I sent to Neil Carmichael regarding water regulations that we did not have time to discuss.

Photo: Randwick Woods


I was disappointed that the meeting was cut to 30 minutes rather than 2 hours as arranged particularly as the previous meeting had also been cut very short. I welcome your moves to push for more catchment wide policies to tackling flooding.

In addition to the points raised at the meeting I had wanted to note some wider issues relating to the water industry - here are some quick notes. I would welcome comments;

1. There need to be greater rewards and lower regulatory obstacles for companies to develop renewable energy/energy efficiency measures. Wessex Water for example have seen a 33% rise in power use in 10 years: massive energy saving will be needed just to stand still. Reforms to regulation for example need to address obstacles relating to:
  • Sludge digesters: it should be easy to take food waste
  • Water company land should be more easily available for renewables
  • Sewage standards need to change to take account of climate change and need a precautionary approach to take account of heavier rains
  • Investment programme is absurd at 5 years - should be at least 10 or 20 years with room to adapt to new information

2. Water efficiency needs more investment - the region is not classed as water stressed but needs investment to maintain balance re supply and demand.
  • We need to move to all meters - at very least starting with metering in change of ownership
  • Clearer measures are needed to protect low income users eg encouraging more tariffs like Assist but this will not be sufficient we will also need to move towards a position where the lowest 10% of householders in income will be subsidised by the wealthier. This is a position advocated by Wessex Water and others.

3. Catchment management: this is still poorly understood. We need local authorities to have a clearer understanding and a lead by Government to ensure Core Strategies take account of this issue. Regulations insisting on assured outcomes also make it difficult for water companies. For example the solution to pesticides and nitrates is to go for expensive intensive water purification. Wessex Water are unusual in the UK in that they are trying to work around this to work with farmers and others.

Cllr Philip Booth, Stroud District councillor for Randwick, Whiteshill and Ruscombe ward

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