“Water management is a hot topic.”

“My name is Paul Roberts and I’m from Thatcham, in Berkshire. We were talking about the flooding that took place 2007, I think in July. I wasn’t actually at home. I was on holiday but there was serious groundwater flooding due to the inadequacy of the drainage system and the water had nowhere to go and it rushed down towards from the ridge at Cold Ash, which is near Thatcham. It came down the hill, nowhere to go, down the road and ended up at the lowest point which is near the railway station in Thatcham. And I think there were over 1,000 homes there were water logged. And people were out of their homes for 18 months. Obviously big Insurance claims and a lot of people were living in caravans in their garden while all the refurbishments was done. So it was a major, major flood.

Since then, a body was formed called Thatcham Flood Forum and they had campaigned for funds to build alleviation ponds or balancing ponds where the water would rest. This once in 200, or allegedly once every 200 year event would never happen again and they’ve built one pond, now, which is fully operational and they’ve got three more in mind.

Well, drought is a concern in the whole of the South of England and one of the problems as I see it, personally, is there is no prospect of a drought in the Lake District or North West England or Scotland or many, many parts in the North of England. Over the years, all the hosepipe restrictions that have been invoked by the water companies have been in the southern areas where there is inadequate water and we are relying on water through the aquifers. And if you have a dry winter, and of course winter rain is the key to all of this, if the winter rain doesn’t come, then the aquifers are dry and then restrictions are imposed.

I think it’s not beyond the wit of man, in my opinion, to employ a pipeline from the areas that have plenty of water to those areas that don’t have much water. I think with the growing population and, if you look at the latest figures, the South East has grown in population far more than other areas of Great Britain. It cannot get any better with more people that is a blindingly flash of the obvious as a Mr. John Cleese might say. It’s just going to get worse and worse. Okay, if you’re going to have heavy rain in the winter, like we’ve had, and the aquifers are full, we might scrape through. But, even now, my local water company is sending people out in vans and knocking on doors saying, can we come in and give you some water-saving aids? And in a time when there is plenty of water and they’re sticking bricks in the cisterns of toilets, fitting adapters on taps, low use shower heads and all the rest of it trying to raise awareness. But the average person, really, doesn’t have a high concern or perception to the problem, I think, and I think they need to do a lot more. The problem is that people pay their rates and they pay their water bills and the think, hang on. What’s the thing that I pay for in the advance and, when I really want it, I can’t have it? To many people that is outrageous. And the water companies have to do a lot more. Water companies like Thames Water, which I think was sold off to a German Company, are making billions, billions of pounds out of water. People are on hosepipe restrictions and there will be a lot of rebellion against in years to come, I am sure. So I think it’s a hot topic really.”

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