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No plans for a UK water grid

Earlier this year, Nick Herbert, the former shadow environment secretary for the Conservative Party and now policing minister, backed the UK-wide introduction of a grid enabling water companies to trade treated water and avoid capital intensive projects where necessary.

The proposal - already in operation across parts of the UK - sees small connections created between companies, enabling those with surplus water to sell to those with less.

But the UK wide introduction of the water grid has failed to materialise since the formation of the coalition government.

According to the charity Waterwise, the UK has less available water per person than most other European countries.

Waterwise says London is drier than Istanbul, and the South-east of England has less water available per person than some parts of Northern Africa and the Middle East.

However the coalition government has pledged to reform the water industry to ensure more efficient use of water and the protection of poorer households.

Environment Minister Richard Benyon announced in July that the government will publish a water white paper in early summer 2011 exploring ways to reform the water industry.

He says: “It gives us the opportunity to establish a step change in the way water is used and the way it is valued.

“It’s clear securing the right change is a joint responsibility. We’ll all benefit if we get it right, we’ll all suffer if we get it wrong.”

Mr Benyon adds that the quality of the water used in the UK is paramount to the country’s quality of life.

“It’s imperative we secure and maintain this valuable resource,” he says. “A resource vital not only to the environment and people’s health but to the prosperity of our country.”

A consultation will begin later this year to contribute towards the water white paper. More details will be available at www.defra.gov.uk