Technology fix needed for water shortages

Ellie Zolfagharifard

Senior Reporter

It’s been less than a year since the devastating floods swept the North West, yet millions of people in the region are now facing a hose pipe ban.

The restrictions came into force at 6am this morning and will include households in major cities including Manchester and Liverpool.

United Utilities, the company enforcing the ban, said the measure would ‘make sure that we don’t run out of water during what could be a long, dry summer.’

It added that only around half the amount of rain had fallen since January compared to the annual average and that reservoirs, which are expected to be around 75 per cent full for this time of year, are just over 50 per cent full today.

So where exactly has all the water gone? Leaks in the system are one culprit. Last year residents in Merseyside experienced a major flood following a burst water main – the third in 18 months.

There should be a place for technology to tackle these leaks, which United Utilities claims are hard to detect as many lie under buildings, roads and motorways.

Another solution would be build more reservoirs. Thames Water has recently put forward plans to build a £1bn reservoir near Abingdon in Oxfordshire which would have a capacity equivalent to half of Lake Windermere.

While many of the areas that experienced the flooding in the North West, including Carlisle and Allerdale, are excluded from the ban the irony has not been lost on local residents.

Whatever causes and exacerbates the floods, the fact remains that both companies and the government need to come up with a better way of managing water in the UK if future shortages are to be prevented.