Observer / Guardian article highlights long-term concerns on water management

In his first public interview since leaving office in the recent Government reshuffle, ex-fisheries minister Richard Benyon MP reveals in the Observer (15th November) how close the country was to seeing extreme water conservation measures being put in place during the Queen’s Jubilee last year.   It was only the fortuitous downpours that turned the summer into one of the country’s wettest – after the driest year on record – that saved consumers from street stand-pipes.

Comments Paul Knight, CEO of the Salmon & Trout Association (S&TA), “Our Association has long urged successive governments to put in place sustainable water conservation measures that reflect demand and the true value of water, not just for the next year but for decades to come.  We are facing unprecedented pressure on water supplies, especially from population growth in the south-east.”

He adds, “We applaud and support Richard Benyon’s stance that the current lack of resilience of Britain's water system  means that a few more months of dry weather last year would have delivered "humiliation as a country", with people in "the sixth biggest economy in the world, in one of the most economically vibrant parts of that country, having to collect water from standpipes in the street".”

Richard Benyon is further quoted as saying more companies imposing water meters on their customers, an investment in new reservoirs, greater connectivity between reservoirs across the UK, and a crackdown on the ability of water companies to take the cheap option and abstract water from Britain's dying river beds should be the answer.

“These are all measures we have been lobbying for and totally endorse,” Paul Knight declares.  “And we urge everyone who cares about our fragile aquatic environment to put pressure on the government to recognise that water is a precious resource, not a limitless commodity.”

Richard Benyon's one time Labour parliamentary neighbour, Martin Salter, the former Reading West MP who now works as Head of Campaigns for the Angling Trust, adds,  " Richard Benyon's endorsement of the case for huge investment in the water industry, including the long overdue introduction of universal metering, to keep the rivers flowing and the taps from running dry should serve as a wake up call for a generation of politicians who are in denial over the water crisis that faces Britain. As he rightly says we cannot go on sucking the aquifers dry and irrevocably damaging both wildlife and the environment without taking steps to tackle demand and water wastage."

The full feature can be read at: