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From The Socialist newspaper, 30 May 2018

England facing water shortage due to underinvestment

Ten of Britain's 12 major water firms admit they still use dousing rods to find leaks

Ten of Britain's 12 major water firms admit they still use dousing rods to find leaks   (Click to enlarge)

Nationalise water and utilities!

Laurel Fogarty

Serious leaks, rising domestic use, and massive consumption by an unsustainable energy sector, mean much of England could see water shortages in the coming decades, says the Environment Agency.

What irony at a time when torrential rain has caused flashed flooding in parts of Britain! Crumbling infrastructure loses over three billion litres a day. That is enough to provide water to 20 million people.

Britain's privatised water firms are so inefficient that they continue to use medieval-style superstitious divining rods to locate leaks! And the industry is still reeling from a damning 2016 parliamentary report on price fixing worth over 1 billion in additional profit, with regulator Ofwat also implicated.

Continued and careless overexploitation of resources and underinvestment by profit-driven water companies has had a devastating effect on the environment. Between 6% and 15% of UK rivers have already fallen into poor condition as a result of water overuse.

The amount of water taken from 28% of UK groundwater sources is already unsustainable, along with 18% of surface water sources such as rivers. This is a ticking time bomb for Britain's water ecosystems.

As their profits grow, and amid criticisms of tax breaks and inflated charges, water companies have put shareholder dividends above infrastructure repair, and above the rights of ordinary people to clean and sustainable water sources - as well as our right to enjoy an unspoiled environment.

Capitalism, a system that prioritises accumulation of wealth at all costs, has been shown again and again to be unable to provide the necessities of life to the vast majority of people. By paying out shareholder dividends while their leaky pipes waste billions of litres, drying up our river ecosystems, water companies have demonstrated this yet again.

Under socialism, water companies, along with all other big firms currently profiting from basic human needs, would be nationalised under democratic workers' control and management. The use of water and other natural resources would be democratically planned.

Large-scale introduction of sustainable water sources, along with renewable energy sources that reduce the need for cooling water, and a crash programme of pipe improvement, would be easily possible under a system driven by the needs of the majority, not the profits of the few.

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