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UK rivers on red alert as water firms face calls for more pipe bans | DROUGHT

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Most of the UK’s rivers are on red alert, according to the UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH), as campaigners say our rivers are dying and call for an immediate nationwide ban on tubing.

This summer, water companies have come under fire for their apparent failure to plan for the drought and deal with their leaking pipes. Sarah Bentley, Thames Water’s chief executive, received a 496,000 bonus last year, almost double her performance-related pay for the previous year, and a pay rise to 750,000 from 438,000 in 2020-2021, annual accounts show.

Sources at Thames Water have ruled out announcing a pipe ban this weekend, despite the dry status of rivers in the south of England.

Most water companies have stopped short of banning excessive water use such as watering gardens and washing cars with hoses, but river experts hope August forecasts from the UKCEH will spur them into action. The Rivers Trust has accused water companies of waiting until the last minute to implement the bans in order to avoid backlash from customers. Only two so far, Southern Water and South East Water, have announced pipe bans.

Last month was the driest July in England for more than 100 years and some areas have had their driest summer on record. According to latest predictions, rivers have been placed at the most severe drought warning level across the country, even in areas that have seen rain in recent weeks. For many, it is almost certain that the flow will be the lowest it has been this century.

Forecasts show major rivers, including the Avon and Waveney, flowing more slowly than during droughts in 2011 and 2006, when there were pipeline bans in many areas of the country. In Scotland, rivers including the Tyne and Tweed are expected to flow much slower than usual.

Next week, the government and UKCEH will produce a report based on these forecasts which will analyze how dire the situation is in the UK, with rivers drying up.

Activists are hoping for an urgent action plan to be put in place, fearing the rivers could face long-term effects from the lack of water.

Last month, the National Environmental Agencies Drought Group, made up of agricultural groups, environmental experts and representatives from government agencies, met to discuss the response. They were supposed to meet in October, but the meeting was postponed due to drastic conditions. However, the government does not enforce the pipe ban, leaving it up to the water companies. He can give advice and has asked for further action to be taken.

But charities don’t think that’s good enough. Josh Jones, a senior technical analyst at the Rivers Trust, said: This just shows that we need to implement management. Without managing demand when there is a limited supply, we are heading for rivers and wildlife in rivers going for a hard time. We need to slow down the flow of water in rivers in the first place and replenish soil moisture, and we need more wetlands that also store water. Water companies need to put pipeline bans in place across the country and they need to be proactive not reactive, this problem has been widespread for a long time. Even if you look at a 12-month average, its rainfall is below average across the country. This problem was predictable.

A spokesman for the Angling Trust said: Let’s not sugar coat this, our rivers are dying. The situation is farcical, predictable and entirely the result of our abject failure to plan properly in this country. There hasn’t been a new reservoir built in Southern England since 1976, coincidentally responding to the last major drought, yet since then millions more people live here and use more and more water. With the impacts of climate change being felt here and now, the government and water companies have known this was coming. However, they have prioritized profits over the needs of our environment and wildlife.

The consequences for nature could be dire because of this lack of action, he added. He said: We are seeing an increasing amount of fish deaths being reported, starving for oxygen and lack of water, and we have to deal with that in addition to the pollution that is being poured into our rivers. And the lack of water is killing our chalk streams, which we have a global responsibility to protect. Many of them, from Pang in Berkshire to Ver in Hertfordshire, are no longer flowing along long stretches of their upper reaches, some of the most important habitats for wildlife.

Demand reduction and the introduction of pipe bans is important. We are in a drought, it is a crisis, we all have to play our part. But all this is just a sticking plaster. What we are experiencing is the new normal. We need urgent action and a much faster response from government, regulators and water companies.

Thames Water told the Guardian that its crews had been working 24/7 to maintain water supplies, but if the drought continues, water-saving measures, including restrictions, may become necessary. The company has a statutory drought plan and implemented the first phase of this plan in May, which was a media campaign with water-saving tips.

The next phase of the plan would be to introduce a temporary ban on the use, which would likely include the pipes. The timing will depend on the amount of water used by our customers, which determines the rate at which reservoir storage declines, and the amount of flow in the rivers, which determines how much water we can take to refill them, Thames said. Water.

He added: Consumers can really help us with this long-term planning by using water wisely by only using what they absolutely need.

The Guardian has approached Defra for comment.

Sources

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2/ https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/aug/05/uk-rivers-on-red-alert-as-water-firms-face-call-for-more-hosepipe-bans

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