Water bills up by £30 to save wildlife

July 23, 2008 at 3:56 pm

The idea of our bills going up any further might sound like someone is having us on in this time of crisis, but it’s not a joke and it looks like the wildlife are going to be the biggest benefactors.

The Environment Agency have conducted a review and found that the water being taken from rivers and aquifers is damaging wildlife in the wetlands and the chalk rivers causing animals such as voles, and fish such as salmon, to get the thin end of the wedge. In total, the financial damage from changing the system could mean an extra £450 million goes on to the annual water bill, which is going to be as much as £30 more per household in some of the most seriously affected areas of the UK.

The water regulator Ofwat has been asked by the Environment Agency to propose an increase in bills in order to make way for new plans and they seem receptive to the idea. We could see a hose pipe ban in places in some of the lower land areas and could even see water being pumped from high ground in Scotland and Wales to the more dry areas in the south to stop water being taken from these protected areas.

The Environment Agency’s review has found that one in ten areas of water source near protected sites is causing problems to the wildlife population. The worry is whether, in this year of the credit crunch crisis, people have the same compassion they might have once had for the situation.

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4 million at risk if dams burst

July 16, 2008 at 7:40 pm

A report on last summer’s floods has revealed the alarming news that 4 million of us could be at risk if dams or reservoirs burst. For each of the dams or reservoirs which poses a risk, thousands of houses would be swept away and energy supplies to vast swathes of the country cut off.

According to Sir Michael Pitt, who headed the enquiry, the people at risk are living in ignorance since the “inundation maps” showing the problem areas are kept secret, even from the emergency services, because of the threat of the information falling into the hands of terrorists.

Sir Michael has criticised the culture of secrecy, saying that it causes “unnecessary risk” and that people must be told of the danger to their lives. Water UK, which represents the water industry, has said that it “broadly agrees” with Sir Michael but that it is up to the Government to decide how much of this information “should be in the public domain”.

Last summer the Ulley dam near Rotherham in South Yorkshire came close to bursting and part of the M1 had to be closed and a thousand people evacuated in the middle of the night. Because inundation maps were not available to the emergency services, they had to draw up their own from Ordnance Survey maps and, as a result, over-estimated the risk evacuating more homes than was necessary.

Things are different in Europe and America where the emergency services have free access to the sort of information, which is so well guarded in the UK.

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Anglian customers having to boil water

July 8, 2008 at 2:49 pm

Thousands of customers in Northamptonshire were told last week by Anglian Water company that they should boil their water, after the parasitic organism, Cryptosporidium, was found at a water treatment plant.

Whilst the water was acceptable for baths and showers, consumers were warned that water for cooking, drinking, cleaning their teeth or even giving to pets must be boiled, to avoid unpleasant symptoms including vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps and fever, which can last up to three weeks in otherwise healthy individuals and even longer for those with compromised immune systems.

There is no cure for the illnesses caused by Cryptosporidium and it can sometimes be fatal. In 1993 a hundred people died in Milwaukee as a result of a Cryptosporidium outbreak which affected a quarter of the city’s population.

Anglian Water hopes that three quarters of the 250,000 customers affected will be able to drink water straight from the tap by July 4th and that it will be safe for the remaining 25% by July 11th. The parasite has been treated with UV light which deals with the problem comparatively easily, and the water treatment works have been flushed out.

The outbreak occurred at the Pitsford treatment works on June 25th and an enquiry has been set up to investigate the likely cause. The parasite is fairly common in farm animals which may or may not give some clue as to how this problem arose.

Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, is quoted in a statement on the Defra website as saying that he was impressed by the way in which all relevant agencies worked together to handle the problem as soon as it was identified.

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Overestimating your water bills: It pays to know

July 1, 2008 at 2:54 am

After watching the following complaint on the BBC News website, I started to think about the unfairness of overestimating a person’s water bill. Whilst some people are extremely careful about how much water they use, others barely give the subject a second thought. Despite individual efforts, a person’s bill will still be based on the rateable value of their property. Many people carry on paying this way, not realising that a water-meter could be far cheaper for their needs. Although this is an uncertain method of paying your water bill, you need to weigh up the pros and cons of paying an unmeasured charge. An elderly person living alone, for instance, is not going to use the same amount of water as a family of four. Yet they may end up paying the same amount. Be sure before you switch, as after 12 months, you may not be able to switch back.

It is important to keep in touch with your water supplier in case they implement any changes (e.g. cost). To find out exactly how much you might save, you can ask your company to provide you with its ‘water meter calculator’.

To find out the most efficient way to pay your water bills, please visit and type in your postcode. Available options include switching to a water-meter and switching your water supplier.

To check the efficiency of, I decided to find out how much money I could save. The unmeasured charge we pay is £402 per year. However, according to uSwitch, if we were to switch to a water meter, we would make a total saving of £90.34 per annum. Prior to this research, I had no idea that this was the case.

Click here to find out more about free water saving devices. Please read the Citizen’s Advice Bureau’s water supply guide for further information and advice.

It pays to know your water flow.

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