The country’s Victorian water system leaks an incredible 3 billion gallons of water every day, a figure that requires nearly double the reduction.
About 20 percent of the country’s water supply, enough to meet the needs of more than 20 million people, is lost every day because the absent owners of the water companies routinely haven’t spent the billions needed to upgrade thousands of miles and correct repair of broken pipes.
Even more shameful is that it is a figure that has remained roughly unchanged for over a decade.
Meanwhile, Britain has not built a new reservoir since 1989 and a £250m desalination plant that would protect hundreds of thousands of homes from the effects of drought has been shut down, the Telegraph revealed on Thursday.
It is part of a much deeper malaise plaguing Britain. In parts of West London, housing projects with more than 25 houses face a ban of more than a decade because the electricity grid no longer has the capacity to support new houses.
New developments are expected to support low-carbon technologies, such as heat pumps and electric vehicles, but the grid has not been upgraded to cope. It’s a troubling look to the future, as the country’s aging grid struggles to cope with the transition to an electricity-powered economy.
Britain has run out of water and electricity. It is a privatization failure and a failure of regulatory oversight, bordering on a national scandal. That’s not to say that public ownership is the answer, but the current model clearly doesn’t work. The water industry, such as energy, transport, telecom and our airports, was sold to the highest bidders and has been woefully underinvested ever since.
In most cases, the buyers have been foreign private funds, eager to portray themselves as so-called “long-term investors” and enjoying lucrative returns, but seemingly reluctant to return the sums of money needed to meet the needs of a modern economy.
As monopolies, the right conditions for investment must be created. If that means an era of lower returns, then so be it. There has never been a more opportune time to tear up the entire scheme so that customers are no longer short.
With Britain in political turmoil and Labor in the majority, it is in the industry’s interest to boost reforms. The owners of our infrastructure must be forced to upgrade the fundamentals of the economy before it’s too late – otherwise calls for nationalization will resurface.