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South-east building plans could 'worsen water shortages'

Government plans to build one million new homes in the South East

risk worsening water shortages, it was reported today.

A Lords committee report, to be published tomorrow, will say

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's department failed to consult

companies, Ofwat or environmental experts over the plans.

They say a sub-committee of the Lords' Science and Technology Committee will insist the regulator must take a more assertive role in ensuring water companies deal with long-term issues of leakage and increase sources of supply.

Government departments will be criticised for failing to

develop an overall strategy on the issue.

The committee is also expected to recommend a major drive to

increase the number of water meters in homes.

It is believed the committee will also call for better use of `grey

water'. This includes water from washing machines and baths.

The Environment Agency has warned that parts of the South East could be on course for its worst drought for a century.

Millions of people are facing restrictions on water use and there

are fears that standpipes may be needed in London for the summer.

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