We have a peculiarity in the UK, well that’s one way of putting it, others wouldn’t be so kind. Its been on our national news that we are facing drought conditions in certain parts of the country for the coming summer months, mostly the south of England. Now take a look at a map of the UK and you may just notice something.
It may just occur to you that we are surrounded by blue stuff, ok its not really blue its mostly a murky grey/brown stuff but yes its water, and yes we are an island. So what’s this drought thing? Well its not a drought for the whole country just say from the Lincoln part down to Brighton and across to Northampton, the South East corner the rivers and reservoirs are running dry it seems. But in Scotland and parts of the North of England they are swimming in the stuff, so hear this you guys why don’t we pipe all the water you don’t use up in the North, down to the Southeast where we need it?
Sounds reasonable? Well yes I suppose it does except for one little obstacle, who’s going to pay for all this? A little explanation here for those outside the UK, our water industry was, for many years, a public utility, that means it was run by local authorities and government departments, but then it was sold off in the great rush of privatisations, I’m not even sure myself who actually own’s our water companies these days. But of course private companies have to make money and they don’t do that by spending great amounts making the water system better.
We were told that under previous ownership the whole system was breaking down so it would take years for the new owners, and bundles of money, to put all this right, that was in the 1989. You could see at various times that indeed mains water pipes were bursting and flooding roads and the surrounding area but what was also happening was that was other pipes were leaking gallons of water every year, and it appears that is still the case years after these private firms took over.
So yet again the carrion call is for all that surplus water in the Northern regions to be shipped, or piped to the South. But why can’t the water down south, like the North Sea and English Channel be used instead. In this day and age cannot desalination plants be built to make the sea water usable, or is that too simple a solution? It seems like the answer is no we can’t build desalination plants, as the cost of running these things is exorbitant, but isn’t piping water two thirds of the way of the country just as costly?
Oh and by the way there is a desalination plant already built, in London, and will only be used in case of emergencies, like a drought, looks like it will be used this year. And there was a government report on water shortages in the South East in 2006, but its so long and tedious I won’t bother copying any extracts but I’ll summarise it. Basically we have been here before and nothing has been done.