Storage capacity has barely increased in 20 years, though population has risen by 10 per cent.
In two weeks’ time, millions of people in southern and eastern England will face a £1,000 fine if they use a hosepipe. So, as our water bills continue to rise faster than inflation (mine has risen by 10 per cent this year), many people will get even less water for their money. But before we blame this just on the unusual winter drought, a few figures are in order.
Since our water industry was privatised 20 years ago (it is now largely foreign-owned), our total storage capacity, 520 billion gallons, has barely increased. Due to drought, our reservoirs are only 90 per cent full, a shortfall of 50 billion gallons. Yet in the Thames Water area alone, more than 50 billion gallons a year is lost in leaks – fully a third of the total that the Australian-owned company delivers to its customers.
So where have all those tens of billions of pounds that we have handed to the water companies gone, if they haven’t been spent on increasing our water storage, over a period when the population rose by 10 per cent, or on mending leaks? (In Holland, where water is still state-owned, only 6 per cent is lost in leaks.)