National strategy for water needed

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WHILE very understandable that the lack of competition in the supply of water is an issue raised last week (Observer, February 17), we are faced with the big, big problem of drought in the South East and Eastern Counties.

That will affect every aspect of what we do, the way we live and impact even more so on farm production, the environment and wildlife.

We face the worst drought since 1976 and rather than aggravate about salaries we should be insisting Southern Water works much harder for us.

The fact is that we are still fudging around a national water supply policy, a matter that shows up year on year with the increasing duration of each new hose pipe ban - and exhortation to be less wasteful of this critical resource.

Government is just not yet getting down to the fundamentals, but much as new housing development is allowed on flood planes and there is wonder about flooded homes, so we continue to stretch the already tight water supply by allowing excessive development in these vulnerable eastern and south counties.

The Victorians with great perception built reservoirs in Wales and trunk mains to supply Birmingham, a wonder that is still in full flow today.

But where is the South East, having to rely on reservoirs being filled by very variable rainfall?

Pictures of Bewl Water and Darwell Reservoir – and elsewhere – confirm the reality.

We are back to the old bogey of lack of investment in our infrastructure.

Do we just hope that Chancellor George Osborne will recognise in the coming Budget the need for a government-led plan for steadily increasing investment in a national main stream water supply network?

Or are we really going to accept having to collect our meagre ration from standpipes, suffer increasing food costs?

We must save, yes – but we must increase the flow.

Come on Southern Water – perform.

Richard Tilden Smith

Church Cottages, Mountfield