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PRIVATISED water firms are to blame for the massive shortage which could lead to England running out of water in 25 years’ time, Labour and trade unionists said today.
The Environment Agency warns that Britain could run out of water in a few decades’ time, with chief executive Sir James Bevan saying that the country faces a “jaws of death” situation where there will be not enough clean water for the population.
But water workers’ union GMB highlighted that privateers “let more than 950 Olympic-sized swimming pools’ worth of water go down the plug hole every day.”
A GMB report revealed that in 2017 water companies across England and Wales lost around three billion litres of treated water every single day.
Yet a study from the National Audit Office showed that people’s water bills have increased by 40 per cent above inflation since the water industry was privatised by the Tories in 1989.
The demand for water looks set to rise as Britain’s population is expected to grow to 70 million by 2030, and the effects of global warming will dissipate water resources and increase the risk of droughts.
Speaking at a conference of the water efficiency campaigning group Waterwise Mr Bevan said: “Demand for water will rise as the population grows, whilst water supply is likely to reduce as the effects of climate change kick in.
“Around 25 years from now, where those two lines cross is known by some as the jaws of death – the point at which we will not have enough water to supply our needs, unless we take action to change things.
“We can foresee this moment and there is still time to avoid it.”
He urged the conference to fight to improve social attitudes surrounding water wastage, saying that the idea of wasting water must become “as socially unacceptable as blowing smoke in the face of a baby or throwing your plastic bags into the sea.”
He also said that scores of new reservoirs must be built across the country and that water companies must start taking seriously the huge number of leakages that take place in England’s privatised water system.
GMB national officer Stuart Fegan said: “When the Environment Agency issues dire warnings about the UK running out of water we need to listen.
“But pressuring everyone to use less of this most basic necessity through ever rising bills is not the solution.
“The summer is coming, but the UK currently uses less than 2 per cent of the water that falls from the sky each year and which flows into the sea.
“The warning only highlights the failure that the privatised water sector in England has been over the last 30 years in managing our precious resource.
“We need to return water to public ownership if we are going to meet public demand.”
Labour shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman said: “While the government continues to subsidise the fossil fuel industry and fails to invest in renewables, apocalyptic warnings that England could run out of water in 25 years are the consequences of climate change at home.
“Water companies are paying themselves millions in bonuses while failing to tackle leakage problems and ripping off consumers, and the Conservatives are failing to hold them to account.
“While the Tories fight among themselves about who should topple Theresa May, they’re putting our country at risk of serious drought.”
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