Appalling state of Rivers

willothewisp

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While we continue to complain of EA failures, perhaps a Guardian online article today provides some understanding. It's in the "Long Read" section.
To sum up/simplify:
Privatisation of water provision in England has prioritised companies to maximise profits for shareholders and managers' benefit. Despite their claims otherwise, enhanced provision of water qualitatively and quantitatively both now and in future, is of lesser priority, so planning and infrastructure investment lag behind what is needed.
Government oversight of these private companies through inspection and enforcement regimes is inadequate, largely through insufficiently resourced staffing and allied supportive services.
Consequently, private water companies largely ignore their legal responsibility, as best understood by evidence of huge levels of untreated sewage disposal into waterways by comparison with virtually minimal legal penalties.
[This is MY summary so please don't criticise ME. Read the article, comprehensive in its facts and sources. And complain to your MP!] Willo.
 

PJG

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I've been going on about this for years! The water companies (most of them foreign owned) are only interested in profits and the EA which is a government department is toothless and hopeless!
 

RedhillPhil

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The situation will continue all the time that it's cheaper for the companies to pay the fine rather than improve their performance.
It's a sucking fandal.
 

Simon R

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The answer is simple - fund the EA correctly.
They have the necessary powers just not enough staff to implement all the surveys and testing that they should be doing.

It's not a new problem either - I left the water industry in 2004 and at the time we worked closely with the pollution control officers, very often investigating illegal discharges or pollution reports together in order to achieve a speedy resolution.

There were constant 'reorganisations' within the EA at the time, the net result of which was a cut in the number of staff who actually did anything useful. The 'old boys' who'd been with the EA since it was a part of the old water authorities and the NRA were offered enhanced pension terms to take early retirement - and many of them did, They were, in many cases, not replaced and those who were by graduates who rapidly discovered their biology degrees were little preparation for taking water samples from becks in the depths of East Cleveland in February.
A lot didn't stay long anyway because the graduate training was rubbish, as was the pay, so they'd get 12 months experience and leave for one of the private companies ( that the EA had sold off) who tested the water samples.

Alternatively force OFWAT to get tougher with the water companies - it is within their remit to remove licences from water companies who constantly fail to achieve targets - leakage, flooding, pollution etc - make those targets harder to hit and the companies will be forced to improve their performance - although how much they'll increase our bills by can only be guessed.

Simon
 

willothewisp

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Not whilst major shareholders are Conservative donors.
A very pertinent observation Phil, and a telling one.
Simon, your comments, from an insider perspective also make highly valid points.
And I know these questions are more relevant/appropriate for the politics forum, BUT:
From a long term "benefit to the nation", just how "successful " has been:-
1. Selling off council housing?
2. Privatisation of railways, water, post office, electricity, gas, etc etc?

And how is "success" or otherwise to be objectively measured?
 

Lee Richards

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I would say that the selling of council houses has been very successful as it provided the buyers the opportunity to own their homes and have a level of financial security that they can pass on or provide for their later life
For many this and the opportunity of share purchase was a major step in their and their families life progression.
 

Wrongfoot

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I would say that the selling of council houses has been very successful as it provided the buyers the opportunity to own their homes and have a level of financial security that they can pass on or provide for their later life
For many this and the opportunity of share purchase was a major step in their and their families life progression.
True, but at point of re-sale many ex council houses were bought up by private landlords and that has had perverse consequences for later generations now renting these properties who would otherwise have been eligible for council houses.

So although the money has been passed on or benefited from, the private ownership has been lost.

Also little incentive for Local Authorities to build council housing to provide for only a single generation before being bought out so I'm told style schemes are minimised in favour of schemes which use private landlords. I understand that Rachmanism is on the increase again. Such behaviour was a justification for social housing in the first place.

I can't decide if it was a bad or good policy...
 

Lee Richards

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"True, but at point of re-sale many ex council houses were bought up by private landlords "

So what makes that a bad thing - those that sold would have seen the benefits and by the nature of the sale and a new purchase would have added money into the system.
Through decades of overspending and mismanagement councils cannot afford to run what they are responsible for - how would they have been able to afford property management of a significant number of council houses as well?

My parents bought their council house and it was the best thing they ever did - it gave them something of their own and meant they were never beholden to the state and the potential to always be trapped living in the same house/area all their lives.
My father died knowing my mother had an asset she could sell if ever needed - council house tenants just have uncertainty.
 
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Dave

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- council house tenants just have uncertainty.
The same could be said for all tenants regardless of who the landlord is. At least with the council properties the tenants have some safeguards in place to prevent them from being ousted from their homes because the landlord wants to 'improve' 'sell' 'use for their own use' 'just don't get on with the tenant' etc.
 

squimp

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Good old Fergal Sharkey on the BBC this morning, well done to him.

Allegedly a water company spokesman will be on later to put their version of reality to the nation.

Stop press; she’s (Southern Water) just been interviewed and admitted their leakage control record is appalling and that their sewage control isn’t up to the job….

We need:
Much better regulation of the water companies.
A new environmental mandate for OFWAT.
Much enhanced leakage detection and remedy work.
Emergency reservoir construction in the South of the country. Potentially a National water grid.
A complete overhaul of the abstraction licensing system.
A renewed understanding that water is a finite resource and we ALL need to think about our consumption.

And don’t get me started on an overhaul of the National sewage system……
 

Neil ofthe nene

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Am I not right in thinking that our rivers are the cleanest they have been since the industrial revolution? I recall a day fishing the Trent in the 70s when the shot on my stick float rig came back covered in purple paper at every retrieve.

I have also read that the investment in the water industry is way higher than it would or could have been if still Government owned.

Yes there are still improvements to be made. One thing any angler can do to help is to join the Angling Trust/Fish Legal so we have a strong representative body to lobby for cleaner rivers and bring polluters, often water companies, to book.
 

Neil ofthe nene

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Good old Fergal Sharkey on the BBC this morning, well done to him.

Allegedly a water company spokesman will be on later to put their version of reality to the nation.

Stop press; she’s (Southern Water) just been interviewed and admitted their leakage control record is appalling and that their sewage control isn’t up to the job….

We need:
Much better regulation of the water companies.
A new environmental mandate for OFWAT.
Much enhanced leakage detection and remedy work.
Emergency reservoir construction in the South of the country. Potentially a National water grid.
A complete overhaul of the abstraction licensing system.
A renewed understanding that water is a finite resource and we ALL need to think about our consumption.

And don’t get me started on an overhaul of the National sewage system……
All of which require money, lots of it, and that can only come, in some form, from the public's pocket. Perhaps if water bills were doubled or trebled the work could be done.
 

Wrongfoot

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"True, but at point of re-sale many ex council houses were bought up by private landlords "

So what makes that a bad thing - those that sold would have seen the benefits and by the nature of the sale and a new purchase would have added money into the system.
Through decades of overspending and mismanagement councils cannot afford to run what they are responsible for - how would they have been able to afford property management of a significant number of council houses as well?

My parents bought their council house and it was the best thing they ever did - it gave them something of their own and meant they were never beholden to the state and the potential to always be trapped living in the same house/area all their lives.
My father died knowing my mother had an asset she could sell if ever needed - council house tenants just have uncertainty.
Do you know what slum landlords are and were? Or Rachman? My family were involved in the compulsory purchase or condemnation of entire streets of slum housing and it's replacement with social housing. The photos and conditions were terrible. Left quite an impression on those that witnessed it. The private sector failed those tenants completely.

It will only take a generation of under investment to backslide towards that again if private landlords are similarly inclined.

I don't deny the short-term individual benefits of right to buy. Also social benefits. I question the long term outcomes. If the state has to intervene again it'll be a huge taxpayers loss effectively paying out to re-create the social schemes sold so advantageously to tenants.

There's little evidence that the private sector is being regulated to prevent that recurrence. Without that, the right to buy project could turn out to be a long term failure.

We'll have to see what plays out...
 

squimp

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All of which require money, lots of it, and that can only come, in some form, from the public's pocket. Perhaps if water bills were doubled or trebled the work could be done.
That’s why OFWAT needs a new mandate; currently it’s key role is to keep water bills down.
 

DevonDangler

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Good old Fergal Sharkey on the BBC this morning, well done to him.

Allegedly a water company spokesman will be on later to put their version of reality to the nation.

Stop press; she’s (Southern Water) just been interviewed and admitted their leakage control record is appalling and that their sewage control isn’t up to the job….

We need:
Much better regulation of the water companies.
A new environmental mandate for OFWAT.
Much enhanced leakage detection and remedy work.
Emergency reservoir construction in the South of the country. Potentially a National water grid.
A complete overhaul of the abstraction licensing system.
A renewed understanding that water is a finite resource and we ALL need to think about our consumption.

And don’t get me started on an overhaul of the National sewage system……
“Much enhanced leakage detection”??? What methods are you thinking of? I could earn myself a nice little bonus if you let me know your ideas 😘💦💦
 
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