Sunday, 15 October 2017

Why nationalising the water industry is a stupid idea

Firstly here's Sky News' business editor:
The nadir came when, during the drought of 1976, millions of people in Yorkshire, Wales, the Midlands, East Anglia, Devon and Cornwall had their household water supply cut off due to shortages and were forced instead to queue in the street for water from standpipes.

Privatisation enabled investment. More than £130bn has been ploughed into the industry since 1989 - a sum unimaginable under state ownership - and standards have shot up.

There have been plenty of long, hot summers since but, thanks to investment in new reservoirs and pipes, households have not had to endure their supply being cut off as they did in 1976.
That's the deal folks. Some people made some profits and in exchange we got £130bn invested in our water supplies, sewerage, clean beaches, unpolluted rivers and a pile of other services. That's £130bn that the government didn't have to borrow and you didn't have to pay taxes for.

Next, let's look at what happens when government runs the water supply:
According to a class-action lawsuit, the state Department of Environmental Quality was not treating the Flint River water with an anti-corrosive agent, in violation of federal law. The river water was found to be 19 times more corrosive than water from Detroit, which was from Lake Huron, according to a study by Virginia Tech.
Since the water wasn't properly treated, lead from aging service lines to homes began leaching into the Flint water supply after the city tapped into the Flint River as its main water source.

Health effects of lead exposure in children include impaired cognition, behavioral disorders, hearing problems and delayed puberty. In pregnant women, lead is associated with reduced fetal growth. In everyone, lead consumption can affect the heart, kidneys and nerves. Although there are medications that may reduce the amount of lead in the blood, treatments for the adverse health effects of lead have yet to be developed.
Nationalising Britain's water services is a really stupid idea.



Sobers said...

Don't forget the population was 56m in 1976, its 10m more now. So despite a near 20% rise of population, we haven't had a serious water shortage for years.

A K Haart said...

I was working in the water industry during privatisation and ended up in the public bit - the scientific side of environmental monitoring. A few years later I remember a chap who looked after sewage works effluent monitoring data saying that effluent quality improved after privatisation. Same plant, same technology, better performance.