Archive for May, 2006

Water, water everywhere…but not a drop to water my garden

Friday, May 19th, 2006

I live in a country that's surrounded by water, has a temperate climate that's usually damp, rainy and miserable and yet we're apprently having a drought. Well, not all this country to be honest, just the south eastern corner – the remainder of the country's drowning in the damn stuff. The organisation that provides my water is a private company called Thames Water, and they have imposed a hosepipe ban for the summer in order to preserve dwindling supplies. This is the same company who's profits have risen to £383m so far this year, directors bonuses increased from £228,000 to £615,000, the chairman gets a whopping £800,000 salary, the managing director £415,000 and so on. So why do we have a water shortage? Unusually low rain fall? Perhaps, but I suspect that loosing 946 million litres per DAY doesn't really help (staggeringly, that's a third of their entire supply! I can't think of any other industry that can loose a third of its product and get away with it).

There are serveral arguments that Thames Water use to wriggle out of this mess. "We're doing everything we can to replace the antiquated victorian mains network". There is a road just around the corner from my house that has been dug up for the past 6 weeks, courtesy of Thames Water. It's not a particulaly long road, perhaps a stretch 200m long, and is being dug up be a bunch of half-witted, fat-arsed workers with an average age of well over 80 – and who appear to have invested their salaries in PG Tips. It doesn't take that long to replace a water mains if you're serious about it. Another argument from the Water Mafia, is that they will not be able to secure financial investment if the company doesn't make an operating profit. What a load of bollocks. If they play by market rules, then they should live by them. As a "private" company they operate in a competitive market, which means that the consumers have a choice. It's not rocket science, it's called market forces, or that dirty word "capitalism". So do I have a choice of water suppliers? Of course not. Do my water bills reflect by reduction in service? Like hell.

Thames Water should take responsibility for running out of our water and sort this mess out. If it means the fat cats getting in their fat cars, filling it up with bottled Evian then that's what they should do. We've paid for it and they've lost it. My garden would weep at this situation, but sadly it's run out of tears.