Public should help save water, drought summit agrees

Water industry and government representatives agreed to join forces to involve consumers in tackling the drought, which continues despite the wettest May in decades.

Environment secretary David Miliband met representatives from water companies, Ofwat, the Environment Agency and the Water Council to discuss plans for tackling the drought on Thursday, as the Met Office announced the wettest May for 27 years.

The meeting concluded that increased metering in areas prone to water shortages and public information campaigns were needed alongside drought orders and leakage reduction measures.

Water metering can cut water use by 9%, according to a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (see relater story), but only 28% of UK households currently have meters installed and pay for the water they use rather than a flat rate.

David Miliband and environment minister Ian Pearson said: “The attendees at the meeting agreed that water companies should redouble their efforts to ensure that consumers have the information and the support they need to understand what they can do themselves to reduce unnecessary consumption of water without compromising quality of life, and what conservation efforts were being made by the water companies.”

They also said that “drought order powers should be used sensitively and progressively,”

All parties firmly rejected the idea of a water grid to pipe water into areas experiencing shortages from the rest of the UK, on the grounds of high environmental and financial costs.

Defra and the water industry also agreed that water companies’ 25 year plans should be made taking the future consequences of climate change on the resource into account.

The dialogue will continue with a further meeting scehduled for the end of this year, Defra said.

Goska Romanowicz

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