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'We must wake up to water threat', says West Norfolk MP

A West Norfolk MP has described a report warning that areas of England could run out of water in the next 20 years as a “wake up call”.

James Wild said water industry wastage was “unacceptable” and added that Norfolk was “one of the driest counties in the country”.

Mr Wild, who is a member of the House of Commons public accounts committee which released the report today, said the UK needed to “value water more”.

A burst water main (28416305)
A burst water main (28416305)

It comes after environmental protestors urged councillors to put “the climate crisis at the top of the agenda” after West Norfolk Council voted against declaring a climate emergency for the third time, following a debate.

The public accounts committee report said the bodies responsible for the UK’s water supply – the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), water regulator Ofwat, and the Environment Agency (EA) – have “taken their eye off the ball”.

The report said “urgent action” must be taken to ensure a reliable water supply in the years ahead.

James Wild (Con) NW Norfolk MP. Picture: Richard Townshend (32385521)
James Wild (Con) NW Norfolk MP. Picture: Richard Townshend (32385521)

It warned there was a “serious risk” that some parts of England would run out of water in the next 20 years, and said 3bn litres – a fifth of all water used – was lost to leakage every day, which was said to be “wholly unacceptable”.

It concluded that Defra showed a lack of leadership in getting to grips with issues threatening the UK’s water supply.

The report claimed the government has failed to be clear with water companies on how they should balance investment in infrastructure with reducing bills, and says “ponderous” companies have made “no progress” to reduce leaks over the last 20 years.

Mr Wild said: “Norfolk is one of the driest counties in the country and this report should serve as a wake up call on the need to value water more.

“While league tables show that Anglian Water has the best performance of the industry on leaks, overall 3bn litres is wasted every day across the industry and that is unacceptable.

“Our report warns of the risks to the chalk streams in West Norfolk and across the country and calls on the Environment Agency to up its game to protect these precious natural assets.”

The committee has called for Ofwat to produce annual league tables for water companies and step up to promote efficiency and deliver an effective campaign for water saving.

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