Lack of government action increases UK water risk

The risk of flooding and water shortage in 2013 has increased because the Government has been 'too slow' in taking action to improve water management in the UK, warn environmental leaders.

According to the group of 16 leading environmental organisations, a long-term, sustainable approach is needed which “works with our natural water systems” to avoid increasing water problems.

The group published a scorecard which measures the Government’s performance against 10 steps to sustainable water by 2015.

Despite the groups warning, the scorecard commends the Government’s commitment to tackle unsustainable abstraction of water from rivers and wetlands, extend the use of metering at a fair price and to develop a catchment based approach to managing the water environment.

However, a lack of actual progress on the ground or in legislation in many areas means the Government “fails to score higher than a ‘C’ grade” for any area of work.

Authors of the ‘Blueprint for Water’ report, the group says that after two dry winters, it took Britain’s wettest ever summer to narrowly avert a serious drought. They warn that despite this summer’s flooding, another series of dry winters would put Britain right back under serious risk of drought.

“We need to use moors, marshes and plants to store and clean rain water, instead of allowing it to run straight into rivers and thus increase the risk of flooding”, the group said.

Chair of the Blueprint for Water coalition, Carrie Hume, said: “Lack of action to fix our broken water system is a false economy. We cannot continue to lurch between flooding and drought which is damaging for people, businesses and wildlife.

“The Government rightly recognises it’s our own over-use of water and interference with natural water flows which has put us in this mess, but it needs to back its words with action.

“In the context of climate change and population growth the challenges are enormous, and Government is best-placed to drive the changes which we all need to make. It needs to start acting quickly if we are to give our most precious natural resource a sustainable future.”

The Blueprint for Water coalition launched the Blueprint for Water Scorecard 2012 at a parliamentary meeting today, where Richard Benyon MP, Minister for Water, gave the keynote speech and answered the groups questions.

The launch addressed how well NGOs felt the Government has delivered on water policy, in the context of the recently published Water White Paper and the forthcoming Water Bill.

Talking to edie, managing director of Waterwise, one of the organisation members, Jakob Tompkins said: “The minister today spoke strong on ambition and was enthusiastic but we want to see more leadership from the Government.

“We’re making progress but it’s more through NGO’s and water companies, and the general consensus is ‘let’s see more action'”.

Leigh Stringer

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