Water costs must rise to protect supply

19th June 2012

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  • Water ,
  • Business & Industry ,
  • Ecosystems ,
  • Biodiversity ,
  • Natural resources



UK and EU policymakers must take urgent action to ensure water security, including increasing the price of water, or risk not having adequate resources in future, members of the House of Lords have warned

In a new report, the Lords’ subcommittee on agriculture, fisheries and environment in the EU has told the government and the rest of Europe that they must “grasp the nettle” and increase the cost of water in areas facing shortages if they are to effectively communicate that water is a valuable resource.

“Price increases may well be an inevitable part of helping to secure our water supplies in the future,” warned the chair of the subcommittee, Lord Carter.

After examining existing EU and UK policy approaches, in particular the implementation of the Water Framework Directive, the peers conclude that politicians must do more to plan for future impacts on water supplies.

“Having taken our water resources for granted for so long, we must start looking at ways in which we can protect the quality and availability of water resources in the face of challenges such as climate change and population growth,” said Carter.

The committee recommends that the European Commission encourages each member state to develop national plans to tackle water scarcity and do more to promote the “catchment-level” management of water supplies.

In the UK, it argues that the government’s proposals to overhaul the water industry, which were set out in last year’s water white paper, need to be implemented as soon as possible if ecosystems services are to be protected.

“The government cannot wait 15 years to reform the water abstraction regime when it is clear that over-abstraction is already doing ecological damage to more than one in 10 of our rivers,” Carter contended.

The peers’ conclusions echo a European Environment Agency report published in April, which found that water resources are already over-exploited in many EU states and that “putting the right price on water” could incentivise greater efficiency.

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