Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Individual vs Legislative Approaches to Use of Water - Part 2

(Continued from part 1)

After consulting a variety of documents I read through DEFRA's (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) report from March 2016, "Enabling resilience in the water sector" added on Water UK's website
In relation to next year's deregulation plan, point 73 is centred on promoting markets, and water is considered as an asset delivering benefits, improving incentives and facilitating markets.

The document states that "The sector needs to adapt to ensure that it can continue to meet the needs of people, businesses and the environment – and the Government’s framework needs to adapt too." (

The sentiment is that as the population continues to grow, and the effect of climate change will put more pressure on the delivery of access to water at the same level as it is now, there will be the need to make water supplies more resilient. 
However, there are no indicators that legislation may be stricter specifically in terms of water use in the first place, except perhaps during emergency periods, such as droughts, with water restrictions put in place on those occasions (point 13). 

Another minor sign that attention will be given to reducing leakage to a minimum, and efficiently reusing water and helping customers in using water efficiently is included in the last paragraph from point 20 (DEFRA, 2016).

UK drought, The Guardian, 2011

The paragraph on "Boosting business resilience" in Part 2 states that: "Without a step change in our national approach, lack of access to adequate water supplies could lead to some businesses being unable to operate while farmers and growers could lose crops or have lower quality crops. If enough power stations had reduced operations due to lack of cooling water, this could affect the national grid particularly if other generation sources were unavailable." (DEFRA, 2016).

The focus, once again, is on boosting business resilience, which is seeking a solution to conditions becoming harder and more challenging; supporting businesses to be resilient, enabling collaboration between businesses and water companies... but what about farmers shifting to growing crops which are less water intensive? If other generation sources of power were to be unavailable, wouldn't that be an opportunity to push for investment for renewable energy production, such as solar energy, for which no water is needed, unlike during the extraction of coal?

"Long-term planning and investment" being mentioned as "essential to securing the water sector's resilience" show the evident colonisation of water as something that can be, and is, a source of or intrinsic to production for human use and advantage.

The conclusion confirms the "business as usual" attitude: "[...] continue to meet the needs of people, businesses and the environment." [...] "continue to work with the water industry, regulators, consumer groups and other water users to deliver, and ensure that our policy framework enables the transition to a more resilient water sector."

As regulations don't show any shift towards a less water-intensive production system, there should be more pressure on politicians to encourage, promote and invest in renewable energy and more efficient use of water, to minimise waste in forms of leakage and lower the overall need for water in the agricultural industry as well as commercial production.

To reach that stage there must be pressure put upon politicians who are likely to have economic interests above environmental ones, who value short-term gains over long-term resource availability.

This thought process identifying the issue from a legislative point, has made me realise that my personal conclusion closes off in a loop, coming back to personal and individual action.

Understanding the elements which determine high use or high saving of water is vital, yet if the majority of individuals who are more likely to suffer the consequences of lack of access to safe water do not put pressure on policy-makers, legislators and members of the government, it is unlikely that meaningful change is going to take place before drastic measures will have to be adopted.

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