by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Wide-ranging improvements to the way that water resources are planned and managed in England and Wales are required, according to The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management’s (CIWEM) new PPS.

This should be underpinned by a major public awareness initiative on the intrinsic value of water, more widespread metering and better integration of the various regulatory mechanisms to ensure that the needs of the environment, as well as customers, are met fully.

But it is not just the customer, the consumer, whether householder, business or other, who needs to understand as to water conservation. The water utilities must definitely respond much better to leaks than they do at present and repair those immediately. Gallons upon gallons of water leak out of broken water mains and here especially the big ones on a daily basis.

Water resource planners face a plethora of challenges in coming years. Climate change, demographic change, sustainability reductions to abstractions, carbon reduction targets and environmental legislation such as the Water Framework Directive all necessitate a more integrated approach to the management of water resources, with clearer delineation of responsibility amongst those involved in the water resources planning process, as well as the resolution of any conflict between the funding and promotion of demand management measures.

One of the biggest of those challenges are the demographic ones and that especially in the South of England where just way too many people are living and more moving to the area.

The water infrastructure just is unable to cope and those huge evaporation pans referred to as “reservoirs” are not funny at all and are totally unsuitable.

The CIWEM believes that water resources must be afforded greater consideration at the pre-planning stage, with regional planning bodies working closely with water undertakers to ensure that water related infrastructure and operations meet the needs of both society and the environment in a sustainable manner. Furthermore, water companies must be made statutory consultees on planning proposals in order to put in place a formal link with planning bodies.

The CIWEM recognizes the success with which demand management measures have been implemented over the past ten years but also emphasizes the need to increase the provision of supply side solutions. Increased winter rainfall storage provision through raising existing reservoir dams, as well as returning treated effluent further upstream where it is currently discharged close to the sea and lost, are both cost effective measures with limited negative environmental impact.

Nick Reeves,Executive Director of the CIWEM, says: “The work of the UK Climate Impacts Programme indicates that with potentially hotter, drier summers we could see severe effects on surface water flows and groundwater levels, particularly in the south and east of England, an area already under pressure from a growing population and Government housing development targets. Close, cooperative working by those responsible for our water resources is essential. We should also look at the current economic downturn as a chance to step back and re-evaluate. We would do well to remember to take full account of the needs of the environment when the economy improves, and ensure that we do not return to unsustainable growth at all costs.”

In the last couple of years, however, we did not have a hot summer in the South-East for instance though summer 2009, while not sunny at all really, was, on the other hand, rather dry. But not, I would say, exceptionally dry.

The use and abuse and the loss of water is just simply too great and the biggest problem that we are facing in the UK while the amount of people living in the South-East and such put a very high demand on water, and let us not even talk about industry and business.

Much, however, could be solved by stopping leaks and the rest by educating consumers as to the way we overuse water and to the fact that in our modern world the water cycle no longer works and more and more simply ends up in the sea.

That too is a reason for sea levels rising, for sure, and also does not help in general as, like the melting of the polar ice, it releases too much fresh water into the sea and hence changes the salt levels.

Just a few little problem as far as water security is concerned.

© 2009