At thursday’s Environment Committee we got an update on the drought situation from both Thames Water and the Environment Agency. It was appriopriate that we started the meeting with this item given we were discussing future environmental priorities for Londoners, as l can not see anything more urgent then the water running out from the mains!
The diagram above really tells the story of below average rainfall for the past two years in Greater London and immediately beyond in the South-East as well, with only 6 months of above average rainfall since January 2010. While the remaining 18 months do not just show less average rainfall but considerably less. So this problem has been building up for sometime and highly unlikely we’ll have the same equivalent amount of rain during the spring to avert a drought during the summer.
This also follows a recent site visit to Beckton where we saw the desalination plant ( also known as the Thames gateway Water Treatment Works) first-hand which will undoubtedly kick in during the forthcoming summer season to provide up to 7 per cent of the short fall of water anticipated we were informed by Thames Water. If we don’t see some major rains over the spring, hosepipe bans by water authorities will almost certainly be applied. As well as a major communications strategy to inform us to consumer less water when we wash ourselves, use the toilet more efficiently & making sure our washing machines are fully loaded, as some of the measures we can take in individual households. But lets not forget that water companies like Thames Water need also to deal more effectively with water leakages in their upgrading of the system under the streets of London. Where we have seen some problems not just in terms of the road works and its impact on keeping London moving but incredibly the regulator OFWAT not permitting them to undertake the works required.
And finally we will no doubt hear further arguments for the metering of water and major initiatives like moving water from the North down to the South. So water issues are likely to dominate the environment agenda in London for now.