11 Apr 2011

Canal to provide water for SE is a big mistake

The local papers report that the Cotswold Canals Trust Chief Ken Burgin is delighted by news that Thames Water will look at taking water from the Severn area via the canal to supply the South East. While Stroud District Deputy Leader, Cllr Keith Pearson rather worryingly welcomed 'any initiative which helped with the regeneration of canals'.

Photo: canal near Saul

Where are the arguments about Thames Water managing the resources they already have, rather than transporting more water around the country?

This water transfer plan sounds like our crazy roads policy which increases supply to meet demand whereas what we need is to question the growing demand. Thames Water needs to properly look after their own water resources by tackling the vast amount of water lost in leaks and supporting land management schemes that protect their residents with flood control measures, but also conserve water.

It is quite extraordinary that homes are still being built without proper rainwater harvesting in areas like the SE where water resources are already stretched.  We are creating huge problems for the future. The situation is already dire.

Meanwhile a recent report published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation says that low-income households are at particular risk because of new methods being introduced to increase the efficient use and distribution of water. It defines "water poverty" as when households spend 3% or more of their income on water bills.  The report, Vulnerability to Heat Waves and Drought: Adaptation to Climate Change, by the environmental consultancy AEA and a team from the University of Surrey, warns that water is becoming scarce as a result of climate change and increased consumer demand.  An estimated four million households in the UK are already "water poor", according to the report, and the situation is likely to worsen, with bills predicted to rise by 5% a year for some customers.

It sounds like the canal can't be the answer in any case. As The Citizen noted retired land drainage firm boss, Martin Neville said: "The biggest obstacle to transferring the water via the canal is lack of suitable water supply. Money is still being raised from the public on the basis that full restoration is feasible. Calculations based on discussions with the Environment Agency lead me to the conclusion that providing a workable water supply would be impracticable."

1 comment:

Philip Booth said...

I have now spoken with a number of others and one guy noted he had asked the EA about water for the canal and they replied by email that there is no water available at the summit. The Defra Minister, Richard Benton is apparently waiting for an EA assessment on the same subject.

There are also concerns re Sapperton traffic - Standage Tunnel, a similar one, is regulated to pass only nine boats in a week, that is 117 boats in the four month holiday season, all due to water shortage and Health and Safety.

As a note I still cannot understand how a transfer works? Pipe? Open stream going uphill? Can anyone help?