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Water: Emergencies

Volume 464: debated on Monday 8 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) whether he plans to reassess the provision of water supplies in civil emergencies; (154363)

(2) what assessment he has made of Severn Trent’s capacity with regard to (a) water tankers and (b) water bowsers and their replenishment during crises;

(3) what assessment he has made of the capacity of Severn Trent to cope with the recent flooding in Gloucestershire;

(4) what requests for assistance his Department received from (a) Severn Trent and (b) other water companies to manage water supplies in the recent floods in Gloucestershire and the surrounding area;

(5) what discussions he has had with Severn Trent on civil emergencies.

There are a number of reviews being carried out by different organisations into the flooding that occurred in the summer. One of these is a wide-ranging and thorough review that has been established by the Government to identify any lessons to be learned for the way that we manage and respond to flooding events such as those experienced recently. This review will cover issues such as loss of drinking water supplies. It is being led by an independent chair, Sir Michael Pitt. We are aiming to publish initial findings by the end of the year and subsequently a formal report. A call for evidence is currently lodged on the Cabinet Office and UK Resilience websites. Until these reviews have been completed and the recommendations considered, it would not be right to comment or speculate at this stage on any actions that might need to be taken.

However, I can confirm that during the flooding of Gloucester and the surrounding area, and following a specific request from the Severn Trent Water, my Department was able to facilitate the use of further road tankers from private companies to assist in the filling of the water bowsers.