Council Attacks Thames Water over Hosepipe Ban

Leader says measures are "crazy" and "cack-handed"

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Professor Richard Ashley

Thames Water Announces Hosepipe Ban

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Thames Tunnel

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Hammersmith and Fulham Council has criticised Thames Water after it was announced a hosepipe ban will come into force from April 5.

Thames Water is one of seven companies in south and east England saying there is a need to impose water use restrictions on its customers next month to combat the effects of an increasingly severe drought after two abnormally dry winters in a row.

However, H & F Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh has attacked the water company, calling its approach "crazy" and "cack-handed".

He says: "The fact that Londoners face a hosepipe ban at a time when we are allowing fresh water to simply go down the drain is crazy.

" This reveals Thames Water’s cack-handed approach. We could kill two birds with one stone if we understood that rainwater is a valuable resource that needs to be conserved.

" If we captured more rainwater through green infrastructure solutions we would not be facing a hosepipe ban and that same water would not be flooding the sewers and mixing with sewage – meaning we would not have to build the massively costly and disruptive super sewer."

H &F Council has fought a long and vocal campaign against the proposed Thames Tunnel, nicknamed the super sewer, and is backing local people who are protesting about Thames Water's plan to use a riverside site in Carnwath Road in Fulham to build a major access shaft into the tunnel, which will run for 20 miles under the river.

The council says its criticism is supported by Professor Richard Ashley, Professor of Urban Water at Sheffield University,who says that decades of failed water management are responsible for the unnecessary emergency measures.

Professor Ashley says that both problems could have been avoided if Thames Water treated rainwater as the valuable resource that it is. And while Thames Water says the emergency measures are necessary as the capital is facing its worst drought since 1976, Professor Ashley counters this, saying that droughts are simply part of the natural variation in rainfall over time and the test of a country’s water management policy lies in the ability to cope with this natural variation.

Professor Ashley warns that Thames Water is repeating the same mistakes of the past in favouring multi-billion pound concrete infrastructure projects, like the super sewer, rather than investing in greener sustainable urban drainage solutions (SUDS) like water butts, using rainwater for toilet flushing, green roofs and permeable pavements that conserve and recycle rainwater.

He adds that Thames Water also has one of the highest leakage rates from its water mains of all the privatised water companies.

Professor Ashley says: “The super sewer is a prime example of the failure of sustainable water management in the UK. Of course we all want a cleaner Thames but instead of capturing the fresh rainwater and using it productively we are allowing it into the old Victorian sewers where it mixes with sewage.

" We are then spending billions of pounds to build a massive concrete pipe to pump the combined rainwater and sewage out to east London – only to be separated out again. Rainwater is a valuable resource that should be managed and conserved."

Cllr Greenhalgh claims: " A shorter tunnel, combined with green infrastructure solutions that are built up incrementally in the medium to long term, would be both compliant with EU directives and less costly and disruptive to Londoners.

" These alternatives require further study before we have more hosepipe bans, bigger water bills and massive construction sites along the length of our precious riverside."

Thames Water says that that last year was one of the driest on record. Following below average rainfall for 19 of the last 24 months, groundwater levels in parts of our region are close to the lowest levels ever recorded. The Thames Water region like much of the South East, is in drought.

Droughts, adds Thames Water, are not caused by a few dry weeks and they aren't solved by a few wet ones. As the company can’t control the weather, or predict how much rain will fall this year, everyone needs to play their part in reducing the amount of water they use.

March 14, 2012