All the utility companies were privatised years ago but in the electricity and gas industry we can change the company who supplies us, but we have no choice with your local water company. You just pay them and they give you water. In my personal opinion in any other company you pay for a service and then they provide you with a service. But the South Eastern water companies are saying there is not enough water to last all summer and they need to take urgent measures. My company in London, Thames Water launched a hose pipe ban in April and you cannot water the garden. Most of the South Eastern water companies are the same. This is what I currently can and can't do with water....
There are currently some restrictions on hosepipe use in your area.
By law you are not allowed to use a hosepipe or sprinkler for watering a private garden or washing a car.
You are still allowed to use your hosepipe for:
You are also still permitted to use a pressure washer, however, Hozelock encourages you to be sensible about your water use and consider whether it’s really necessary.
Always use a water stop connector and trigger gun to control the amount of water your hosepipe uses.
I do find it slightly bizarre what you are still allowed to do legally! You can take your vehicle still to a car washer to do it. The rules may change as it gets worse and some of the Kent water companies are getting drought orders. This means they could turn off entire streets of water and just have a stand pipe tap at one end of the street.
I find this all absolutely insane. In the Summer 1976 before I was born, there was a major drought and people were using stand pipes and advised to bathe together etc. But now its 2006! I should be environmental and totally water conserving but I feel totally its not our fault and its negligence by the water companies.
Someone on my lj friends (who probably does not even realise this) made me see once that just cos a company makes huge profits does not necessarily make them evil. We cant complaint about companies going bankrupt and falling apart and then complaint when they make huge profits. But when they are making huge profits and there is little improvement or investment in their business, then I think its a problem. Last year Thames Water made £2billion for its share holders. But (and here is my real issue) there is major problems with their water service. Most of the piping in London is Victorian in age, some of it before 1900 and its not been replaced! Pipes and sewers are falling apart and collapsing all over the place. They are not investing in their area and I think almost negligently. The other thing is that 7 reservoirs have been sold in the south east area for houses to be built on! 7 huge tanks of storage gone! How can I have sympathy?
As I was saying about the service. When you pay for the internet you get bandwidth and you can do stuff like download illegally, look at porn, read livejournal etc but if you had an awful slow connection all the time and a dreadful isp service, you could complain and change wouldn't you? They would not be providing a service that you pay for. But we are stuck with our water company and cannot change!
I honestly believe in these modern times that we pay for water, so we should get it coming out of a tap! There is three cases where I would change my stance on the water companies.
1/ if the water company was government owned and thus not making profits. That is a totally different scenario and we should all pull together to save water
2/ if there was some awful event happening like an earthquake or the recent problems in Thailand and Sri Lanka and New Orleans. It was a disaster and getting fresh water would be difficult
3/ if my water company was making huge losses and not making any profits at all!
4/ if water was not leaking out of nearly every pipe and there was major investment into it
According to a letter we had from Thames Water advising us on this they spend £500,000 a day on fixing leaks around London. Here is the most shocking statistic of all one third of all London water is lost through leaks Its unpaid for water just flowing out into the soil!
If the drought gets bad during the Summer, the water companies have to apply for a legal order 3 months behind hand to force people to use a tap in the street and the Kent water companies have done this, but fortunately Thames have not. But people talk about "it will bring around the war time spirit, we will all work as communities". I think that is a load of shit. Its going to end with people fighting and legal actions against the water companies by people and group actions. You just watch if it happens!
We don't live in the 70's any more!
Europe and Africa and Australasia have suffered many droughts over the years, and this could be a bad one for us. It could effect other areas of the UK but the South East is the worst affected.
Thames Water have been criticised by a number of tabloids with these fabulous stories which destroy their PR totally!
- the leaks throughout London. You can find leaks in parks and on the side of streets, just flowing for years! and when a major leak happens and ruptures its left for days/weeks/months!
- one of the chief execs of Thames Water had his mansion pictured in a newspaper with huge fountains at the front of the house lol. Its like the worse possible pr. It was a huge gated mansion, but with two huge fountains at the front. I accept most fountains just recycle water, but its not a good image
- The Thames Water building in London was pressure washed. Thousands of gallons of waters were used to clean the glass building and unfortunately the media was there to take pictures. Thames claimed they only rent the building and it was a regular cleaning job by the land lord and they asked them not to wash it!
We have a rain butt to collect water to water the garden and I have to say I have been conserving water. But I would never report someone for using water. If I saw my neighbours washing their car I would smile!
There is a number of suggestions that Thames Water could do. They could pump water through pipes to the south (this happens already from Wales, going Eastwardly), but apparently this would be too expensive. Spain and places like Dubai use Desalination plants which take salty sea water and turn it pure. They claim its too expensive to put in the south east. However Thames Water now say they want to build one at the place where the Thames joins the sea. However London Mayor Ken Livingstone is refusing them. I agree with him on this one. He says the money it would cost to build and the energy it used, would be better put in to repairing pipes. There is no point building it if a third leaks out!
The ban does not cover people who pay business rates for water at the moment, but things like sports grounds and maybe even Wimbledon could be affected. But if all the grass died and they lost lots of money this year, surely they could sue the water companies.
The water companies have made huge profits and done little in their areas but now I think they could be in major trouble. Public Opinion is very much against them. There is a natural/weather element to this, but they should have provided more than enough water in case of such years like this. If they are not providing a service, what are we paying them for! I think that the public can deal with a hosepipe ban, but if it got worse, I am not sure what's going to happen!
The scary thing is that as a child I was told we will always have gas/electricity/water/petrol etc, and guess what we are now running into more and more supply problems! We live our lives in houses with computers/laptops/multi channel tv/ dvd recorders/ tivos/ pvrs/ gadgets that do everything for us and entertain us. There is people in Africa who hate a mud hut and have nothing what we have. We are so lucky! We live with so much! The UK is the fifth richest economy in the world and has a high standard of living, we should have water coming out of taps!
I have hideous images of going to get buckets of water from the end of the street to make tea or to wash myself so I don't stink! It would be like 100 buckets to have a bath! argh!