Azara Blog: Britain's water systems are allegedly in crisis

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Date published: 2006/11/28

The BBC says:

Britain's water systems are in crisis and the government has a decade to put things right, according to a coalition of conservation and angling groups.

They are setting out a 10-point plan to make UK water systems sustainable, including fair pricing, slashing waste and upgrading sewerage facilities.

People should have personal allowances and homes should be metered, they say.
It is perhaps unusual to find conservation groups such as the Wildlife Trusts, WWF and the RSPB in league with angling associations.

But on water, they find common arguments, namely that Britain should:

"It's clear that adequate supplies of clean water are essential, not only for our lives but for the health of the habitats, species, landscapes and soils we depend on," said Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust.

"For too long, we've taken water for granted - we hope the Blueprint will mark the beginning of a concerted effort to put this right."
Within two years, their report says, the government should publish a plan for metering every home. The meters should actually be installed throughout England at least by 2020.

It wants the government to set a consumption ceiling of 125 litres per person per day in most areas, and 100 litres in areas of scarcity.

By comparison, a bath uses about 80 litres, flushing the toilet about 5-10 litres, and a hosepipe 500 litres per hour.

Another day, another "crisis".

This is just more control freakery from the academic middle class. How dare the peasants "take water for granted", next thing you know they'll take education for granted, and the health service for granted, and the air they breathe for granted.

More seriously, it is fair enough to think that water meters are a good idea. There are negatives (e.g. the health of poor people might suffer as they cut water use) but you can at least make a case for meters. Unfortunately these propagandists will only mention the positives, not the negatives.

And any group that talks about "pricing water fairly" is obviously up to no good. What "fair" normally means in these circumstances is "conforms to my prejudices".

If you are going to price water based on economic, rather than social, reasons, then it should be priced based on how much it costs to provide the service, taking environmental, capital and operational costs into consideration (including supply and disposal). That is the "fair" price. An arbitrary price decided by a bunch of unaccountable control freaks is not "fair". Unfortunately they (like Thatcher) know the (economic) price of everything and the (social) value of nothing.

There are no good reasons to set an arbitrary consumption ceiling. By requesting that, these people are just saying that they should decide how other people choose to consume their income. Which of course is the mentality of these people. How dare the peasants decide what to do with their own money.

And it is not that bizarre that so-called conservation groups and anglers are working together here. The former hate consumption (especially by the peasants) of anything, including water. The latter, in common with all other special interest groups, think that their special interest should trump the interests of the rest of society. They both think the world should stand still. Or preferably revert to pre-industrial times, when the peasants consumed little and did what they were told, and England was a "green and pleasant land".

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