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London water bills could rise

July 10, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Residents of London are about to see their water bills rise as Thames Water embarks on a programme to prevent the ageing pipes in the system from falling into further decay. London has 1,300 miles of old pipes, an amazing 20% of which are over 150 years old, and the fear is that without improvements being made they will simply leak too much water.

On top of the repairs to the pipe network, Thames Water is also planning to construct two enormous sewers that will help to extract raw sewage from the Thames, and again customers will be underwriting the costs.

As a result, bills are expected to rise by 17% above inflation over the course of the following five years, a move which will affect all 13.6 million customers. The company has to submit its proposals to Ofwat, the industry regulator, which will decide whether to approve them or not. But there is little hope for customers as the repairs and improvements are seen as essential.

If the price rise is approved, Londoners will see their bills going up from an 81p to £1 a day.

However, the announcement of the price hike has been made just after Thames Water revealed profits of £431.1 million before tax, which is not going to go down too well with customers. No one is going to be happy about having their bills increased during the recession anyway, but to see them go up when the high profits have been revealed is worse still.

Thames Water, however, released a statement saying that if it does not get approval to make the “essential investment” then “customers will pay more in the long term”.

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Quality of water on UK beaches plummets

July 3, 2009 at 1:39 am

There was once a day when swimming in the waters around the British Isles was as clean and safe as swimming in the Indian Ocean. Thousands of holidaymakers would flock to the likes of Hastings, Blackpool, Great Yarmouth and Weston Super Mare to paddle and swim as well as make sandcastles and eat ice creams. But every year coastlines in the UK have become more and more polluted. The current figures for water quality are the worst they have ever been.

According to the Marine Conservation Society, which annually gathers statistics on British beaches, 2009 has seen a drop of 17% in terms of the recommendation for swimming in the sea. The current figure is less than half, with only a disappointing 48% being recommended by the MCS from a total number of 777 beaches in the UK. This hasn’t been the case for over seven years. According to the Good Beach Guide, which is an arm of the MCS and provides a very useful and well researched website for all of Britain’s beaches, this is the worst set of results in their entire history.

One of the possible causes of the pollution comes from the wet summers we’ve had in recent years. The drains are not able to cope with all the water during this period and instead of the sewage water being taken to a treatment plant, it mixes with the rainwater in the storm drains and ends up in the sea.

If you visit a beach and there’s a blue flag flying then you’re OK to swim, but it’s a bit of a gamble for the most part. It’s not only bad news for those of us who want to go for a dip in the summer but also for all the businesses that thrive on the tourists flocking to these beaches. The recession is costing the tourist trade enough as it is. The last thing they need is for people to be put off from going on holiday because of unclean waters.

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