Posted by: sgu05ysw | December 12, 2007

Water Watchdog Plans Shakeup to Bring More Competition

Ofwat has published plans to increase competition of water resources in England and Wales. 

The water industry regulator wants to allow more ‘big’ customers – those who use over 50million litres a year – to switch suppliers. Currently 2,200 big water users can switch but Ofwat wants to increase this number to 27,000 and then eventually to include all of the 1.2million non-household users. 

Ofwat believes that consumers will benefit from greater competition as competition in other utilities has improved services and decreased prices. 

Milner M, (2007), Water Watchdog Plans Shakeup to Bring More Competition, [www], (12th December 2007)

Posted by: sgu05ysw | December 9, 2007

Water Company Failed to Take Action on Flood Warnings

An independent review group commissioned by Hull city council has said the effects of the floods in June were made worse because the water company serving the city failed to act on several warnings. 

The report suggests that some of the 9,000 homes and businesses affected in Hull would not have been flooded if Yorkshire Water had taken onboard some of the recommendations from reports spanning 11 years. The report recommended that the Bransholme pumping station should be modernised and also said that the city council, Environment Agency and Yorkshire Water had all failed to work together. 

Over 250mm rain fell in June and Yorkshire Water claims that no drainage system could have coped with such a large amount of rain.  

Vidal J, (2007), Water Company Failed to Take Action on Flood Warnings, report alleges, [www] (9th December 2007)

Posted by: sgu05ysw | December 2, 2007

The Danger of Water Wars

Water consumption is on the increase with water use tripling in the last 30 years. However, its availability is becoming more and more uncertain leading to the threat of wars over water. 

Problems are arising over what to do where rivers cross many different countries and disputes occur over who has the most control. A lack of legislation means that at the moment there are no agreements on who should decide what happens to the water. 

The threat of wars over water are growing on the West Bank between Israel and Palestine; there have been water riots in Pakistan, India, China and Mexico and the threat of violence will only increase as water becomes more scarce. 

The Danger of Water Wars, (2007), [www], (2nd December 2007).

Posted by: sgu05ysw | November 19, 2007

Green Worker: Toilet Training

Enviro-wise suggests that WCs and urinals are the most ‘water-greedy’ devices in our offices and buildings and that more water friendly systems should be fitted. 

Different toilets will require different water-saving devices and there are even dual-flush toilets that increase or decrease the amount of water used depending on what is needed. Urinals can also be fitted with devices to stop them flushing when the building is not being used. Grey water systems which recycle water from other appliances will also make the office greener. 

Enviro-wise suggests that we should do this as we need to be more sustainable in our use of water as severe shortages are predicted by 2009 if we carry on using water at the same rate. 

Keating M, (2007), Green Worker: Toilet Training, [www], (19th November 2007).

Posted by: sgu05ysw | November 12, 2007

Thirst Refusal

There are growing fears that the intense droughts in Southern California could cause “water wars” between states such as Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona and California.                         

While Southern California is a naturally arid area, there are worries that climate change is making the droughts more intense and could lead to ‘inter-state conflicts’ over the disappearing water supplies. Some models have predicted temperature increases of up to 11F by the year 3000 and this along with population and development pressures will place increasing strain upon water resources.  

The largest reservoir in New Mexico is already less than 50% full and reservoirs in Arizona and Nevada are so depleted that they may never be full again. 

Seven states depend on water from the Colorado River and at the moment water is allocated on a first claim basis. However, this plan may have to change as water becomes more scarce and tensions rise. 

The area is hoping that a wet year will follow the previous dry ones and help to increase water reserves, but this looks more and more unlikely as the effects of climate change worsen year by year. 

Helmore E, (2007), Thirst Refusal, [www], (12 November 2007).

Posted by: sgu05ysw | November 6, 2007

World Facing ‘Arsenic Timebomb’

Scientists speaking at the Royal geographical Society (RGS) have warned that around 140 million people in developing countries (with over 50% of cases being found in South and East Asia) are being poisoned by arsenic in their drinking water. The figure was calculated by using drinking water standards in Europe and North America and it is thought that the problem is present in around 70 countries. 

The digging of wells to avoid drinking potentially unsafe surface water has unfortunately lead to some well water emerging with high levels of arsenic, which is naturally present in the soil. There are also concerns about high levels of arsenic in rice, which are grown in fields flooded with water from the same wells. 

Arsenic consumption leads to cancers and lung conditions and with one out of ten people with high concentrations in their water dying from it, an international response is needed. 

Black R, (2007), World facing ‘arsenic timebomb’, [www], (6 November 2007)


Posted by: sgu05ysw | October 29, 2007

China To Clean Up Polluted Lake

One of China’s largest lakes, Lake Tai in Jiangsu province, has suffered from years of waste dumping and now £7million will be spent in a desperate attempt to control the severe pollution and help improve water quality. 

There was a public panic in June this year when a blue-green algae infestation, covering one third of the lake, led to the suspension of water supplies from the lake. 

The plan announced by the Jiangsu government aims to control the plant build up in the lake in the next five years and resolve water pollution in ten years. 

Image: New York Times [www]

Posted by: sgu05ysw | October 23, 2007

Tougher Drought Rules Unveiled

The government has announced new rules to save water during droughts. Hosepipe bans will now include pressure hoses for cleaning patios and boats, and jacuzzi and hot tub owners will no longer be allowed to fill them up from hoses or mains pipes. 

The tougher new rules are intended to conserve more water for essential supplies during times of drought and are also an effort to end the frustration over measures in place at the moment, which many consider to be unfair. For example, during the 2006 hosepipe ban gardeners couldn’t water their plants but had to watch as their neighbours used power hoses to clean their patios.

R. Booth, (2007), Tougher Drought Rules Unveiled, [www],,2196983,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=environment, (23rd October 2007)

Posted by: sgu05ysw | October 19, 2007

China and EU in campaign to clean up China’s rivers

A five year, 175 million euro campaign has just been launched by China and the EU in a bid to clean up the Yangtze and Yellow River basins, which have suffered from the environmental consequences of rapid economic growth. The Yangtze basin is one of the most polluted rivers in the world, while the Yellow River turned red in 2006 with a third of fish species becoming extinct due to such severe pollution. 

The project will include policies on pollution control, promoting public awareness, reducing industrial pollution and will also pay people who live in China’s south-western provinces to plant trees along the Yangtze in a bid to improve the ecology. 

Country China, EU in Campaign to Clean Up China’s Rivers, (2007), [www], (19th October 2007)

A Report by the National Research Council has found that water quality could be harmed and there could be potential water supply problems if forecasted increases in using corn for ethanol production go ahead.

There has been a large growth in corn ethanol production due to recent increases in oil prices, which has lead to agricultural shifts to growing corn and expanding biofuel crops into regions where there is currently little agriculture. This could change irrigation practices and increase the pressure on water resources in parts of the United States. Increases in fertilizer and pesticide use could also affect the water quality of groundwater, rivers and coastal and offshore waters, resulting in low-oxygen regions. These areas are usually referred to as ‘dead-zones’ and are toxic to most of the animal and plant life within the waters.

The report did find that some changes could reduce the impact of ethanol production from corn on water quality. For example, bio-fuels could potentially be irrigated with waste-water and more water efficient genetically modified crops could be developed. Also changes to agricultural practices could cut-down on nutrient pollution, for example, injecting fertilizer below the soil surface. 

Therefore, while an increase in ethanol production from corn is likely to harm water quality, some changes to agricultural practice could reduce the impacts.

Increase in ethanol production from corn could significantly harm water quality, (2007), [www], (11th October 2007)