WaGCG : Wantage and Grove Campaign Group
Wantage and Grove Campaign Group (WaGCG)

Column 28th September 2022

Anything but a reservoir

Was our dry summer a taste of the future?

At least September has brought some rain.

The risk of a serious drought (requiring drinking water to be restricted) in future years is about 25 percent according to some experts.

Three things need to happen to avoid this:

Firstly we need to reduce leakage – we lose over 20% of all water in the pipes through leakage.

According to the Times, we have a worse record on leakage than any country in Europe except Poland and Cyprus.

The Guardian has reported that water companies in England ‘will take 2,000 years to replace pipe network’ as data shows water companies are replacing 0.05% of England’s crumbling pipe network a year (it took them less than 100 years to build the network).

Thames Water loses 606 million of litres of water each day (enough for nearly 5 million people) and this figure doesn’t seem to be reducing very quickly, if at all.

They exist to make a profit and haven’t paid any corporation tax for at least a decade.

Secondly we need to reduce the amount of water that we use.

We should capture what rain water we can and reduce the amount we use for washing, cleaning etc. and use grey water (from washing) for watering flowering plants.

Finally we need to increase supply, this could be by building more storage capacity (reservoirs).

Building a reservoir is one of the most expensive infrastructure projects that a government can invest in.

Ideally you need a nice deep empty valley with good water retentive rock so that you can just dam the end and it will fill with water.

If you haven’t got a suitable valley then you could just build huge banks (normally called Bunds) around some land, line it with suitable water retaining material (which hopefully doesn’t leak) and then manually fill it with water – or wait for a huge amount of rain!

This is what is proposed for the area between East Hanney, Marcham, Drayton and Steventon.

It’s much easier to transfer water from wet areas to dryer areas of the country.

This makes more use of the existing reservoirs and rivers we have and moves water from the wetter Welsh landscape and the River Severn through pipes (preferably without leaks) to the drier areas such as the Thames Valley.

This could provide almost the equivalent of the total amount of water lost by Thames Water every day.

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