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Water experts claim that the lack of conservative actions has resulted in an increase in sewage contamination.
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Water experts claim that the lack of conservative actions has resulted in an increase in sewage contamination.

Water experts are calling for an independent investigation into the state of water due to a decade of mismanagement by Conservative ministers, citing issues such as elevated levels of sewage contamination, urban flooding, and disruptions in water supply.

According to reports, the Tories’ continuous failure to establish regulations for creating “sponge cities” has resulted in a greater presence of sewage pollution, more frequent flooding, and a rise in disruptions to water supply for both residents and businesses.

According to Alastair Chisholm, the director of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, these regulations were supposed to be implemented in 2011. However, they were rejected by Eric Pickles in 2015, causing a delay of 13 years. This delay has resulted in the current situation.

He addressed the issue as the institute released a detailed report at Westminster, urging the future government to commission an impartial inquiry into the actions of water companies. These companies have been accused of extensive pollution and exploiting the system for profit, while the regulators have not adequately managed the privatized industry.

The report suggests that after more than three decades since water was privatized and with the increase in urbanization and agricultural development, a new approach is necessary. This may include considering changes to water regulators.

“As a result of numerous reports of pollution and unethical practices, trust in water companies has been greatly affected. This has led to both the general public and water professionals desiring increased transparency and reassurance that companies are prioritizing the well-being of society and the environment.”

The report’s authors conducted interviews with professionals in the water and environmental sectors. The majority of these individuals expressed significant discontent with the ownership and operations of water companies. Only 6% of the experts surveyed were in favor of maintaining the current methods of ownership, corporate governance, and regulation.

The report urges the Conservative government to finally enforce regulations for creating sponge cities, after a ten-year period of postponement and attempts to discard the plans. Sponge cities are incorporated into urban areas and consist of various green spaces, trees, ponds, soakaways, pocket parks, and permeable pavement to facilitate drainage. They also encompass methods for storing rainwater and runoff, such as widespread use of water butts.

The sewage systems of water companies are facing increased runoff from rainfall, as they have not received proper maintenance and improvements due to under-investment. This leads to a higher chance of untreated sewage being released, exacerbated by the presence of hard surfaces in urban areas that contribute to flooding.

According to Thames Water’s most recent strategic proposal, London experienced the largest decline in vegetation in front yards compared to any other area in the UK by 2015. This was evidenced by a five-fold increase in front yards without any plants compared to the previous decade.

According to the company, this resulted in a heavier workload for sewers and an increased danger of contamination.

The Conservative administration has consistently neglected to enforce regulations outlined in schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, which requires developers to install sustainable drainage systems in newly constructed developments. Conservative officials have claimed that these requirements would be too expensive for developers.

Last year, The Guardian reported that a minimum of 10% of the Conservative party’s donations since 2010 were from property developers, real estate moguls, and individuals associated with the construction sector.

The public has expressed strong concern about sewage contamination and the recent exposure of water companies’ misuse of storm overflows to release untreated sewage into rivers. This practice should only occur in rare situations, leading the government to reevaluate schedule 3. However, it has not yet been enforced as a requirement for developers.

According to the report, sponge cities have been implemented globally as a solution to address the challenges of growth and water management, particularly in times of flooding and drought.

“We in the UK are facing our own water crises, which involve similar issues of excessive or insufficient water availability, as well as pollution.”

“Creating greener urban areas benefits us in multiple ways. We need to change our perspective on rainwater from being a nuisance in cities to being a valuable asset.”

A survey of 4,000 individuals revealed that 71% of those in England feel that water companies should have limitations on their profits due to concerns about their performance. Two-thirds of respondents stated that these companies are earning excessive profits.

Source: theguardian.com