Regional water sharing the national solution
But can householders save enough to be self-sufficient and, if not, what is being done on a larger scale to protect us against the threat of water shortages next year?
One idea that has sprung from the Welsh water board has been to sell its plentiful supplies to England. It’s not such a bad idea and smaller scale supply deals have already been done in the UK.
Large-scale water transfers have been criticized and better local solutions would certainly be more cost-effective and energy efficient.
However, when faced with shortages, companies and governments are resorting to importing this most basic of human needs, and are looking for ways of doing it responsibly.
Anglian Water was particularly hard hit earlier this year when it found its reserves down by 40% after three dry winters and the worst drought for 40 years. In contrast, its neighbour, Severn Trent Water, had more than sufficient supplies and ideas were submitted to transfer water using navigation canals and the River Trent. Fortunately, heavy rain saved the day but the proposals remain in place in case of future drought.
The plans are not unusual on a small scale but upscaling is a consideration in many water companies.
The UK Government has asked water companies to set forth long-term plans from March 2013, including ways of reducing consumption, making repairs and doing water swaps.
In other parts of the world, where drought has been more common, water transfers are well established.
So, whilst we cannot guarantee a steady supply of water from our taps next year if there is another drought, it seems we don’t have to concern ourselves too much. The government and water companies’ plans will be formalised from next March and regional rainfall variations can be balanced out.
And let’s hope that the water companies’ plans to encourage consumers to save water will make rainwater harvesting easier for more of us to take up. Then we can sleep soundly at night, knowing our moisture-rich crops are safe.
You can read the full report on national water stewardship at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/water-transfers-shortage
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