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Water Shortages/Supplies

Volume 447: debated on Monday 12 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance he has issued to the water companies on the categories of public sector vehicles to be exempt from the provisions of any hosepipe ban. (74454)

Hosepipe bans are imposed by water companies using the powers available to them under section 76 of the Water Industry Act 1991. In line with the definitions within the Act, these powers will apply to private motor cars but exclude public service vehicles and goods vehicles. No additional guidance has been given.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with Thames Water on the seeking of a drought order by the company; and if he will make a statement. (74781)

I met with representatives of Thames Water on 25 May to discuss a range of water issues, including the company’s water resource position in light of the Environment Agency’s report “Drought prospects 2006—spring update”.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the projected change in mains water usage over the next (a) five, (b) 10 and (c) 20 years. (75375)

The Environment Agency is the statutory body with a duty to manage water resources in England and Wales. As part of the agency’s management role, it has both national and regional water resource strategies which set out the pressures over the next 25 years. Information about these strategies is available on the Environment Agency’s website: www.environment-agency.gov.uk.

Water companies have statutory duties to maintain adequate supplies of water. They have 25-year water resource plans which complement the agency strategies and seek to reconcile supply with anticipated demand. This forward planning framework exists to take account of factors such as the water supply and disposal infrastructure required to service significant new housing developments and the implications of climate change.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans are in place in (a) London and (b) England to provide (i) bottled and (ii) other sources of water to (A) schools, (B) hospitals, (C) nursing homes and (D) elderly and disabled people during a water shortage or drought; and if he will make a statement. (75700)

Any projected shortage in supply this year will be addressed through the relevant water company’s drought plan. These plans set out how the company will continue to meet its duties to supply adequate quantities of wholesome water during drought periods with as little recourse as possible to drought orders and permits.

No water company is expecting to rely on bottled water supplies, which would require authorisation under an emergency drought order. Water companies would deploy their existing emergency plans to provide alternative supplies of water to customers in vulnerable sectors in the event of emergency drought order measures being put in place.