UK uses less than 2% of rainfall and the rest runs into seas says GMB London

Download as PDF


There is a shortage of investment to collect enough water to supply a growing population and have adequate stocks to cope with the periodic droughts says GMB London 

GMB London, the union for water workers, responded to the new report published today 10July on the water companies.  See link to the report.

Gavin Davies, GMB London Region Senior Organiser said:

"There is much to commend and welcome in this report on the performance of the water companies and the regulator OFWAT. 

However the Public Accounts Committee repeat a fundamental misconception about the water supply in this country. They repeat the fundamental falsehood that there is a shortage of water in this country. 

There is no shortage of water in the UK. We use less than 2% of the water that falls from the sky for public and industry consumption including agriculture. The other 98% runs via our rivers into the seas. 

What there is is a shortage of the necessary investment to collect, move, store  and treat enough water to supply a growing population and have adequate stocks available to cope with the periodic drought that we get in this country.  This is the actual problem that we face. 

GMB as the water workers union has been pointing out for decades that London and the South East and East of England are not geared up to deal with the periodic droughts that come along every so often. 

Rather than deal with this problem it has suited the water companies to go along with the falsehood that water is a scare resource and not make the investment in the many viable schemes available to actually solve the problem at source.  One such scheme is to move water from west to east via the Severn and Thames and a restored linking Severn/Thames canal.

The recent public health emergency shows the huge costs of not being properly prepared for what is a foreseeable future drought. It also shows the huge costs of the failure of experts to properly diagnose the causes of problems and deal with them. 

OFWAT and Thames Water experts hide behind the false narrative that water is a scare resource. They persistently and blatantly ignore all calls to implement the schemes identified by the Victorian engineers to have water available to deal with the very severe droughts that come along once or twice every generation. It is very disappointing that they are not put under any pressure from any quarters other than trades unions to implement perfectly viable solutions to these periodic droughts.

The Public Accounts Committee provides a welcome focus on the overall water companies and the regulatory regime. It is essential however that the voices of the water workers is heard as this industry is under discussion. They know that there is no shortage of water. They have to deal with the flood defences and have plans to deal with  very heavy rainfall on a regular basis and see the water safely to the seas. 

Water is a natural monopoly and it should be in public ownership and regulated by Government itself accountable to Parliament and the electorate."



Gavin Davies, GMB London Region Senior Organiser 079 3098 3376

GMB London Region Press Office 079 7001 9643