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The second obvious step is to reduce leakage. Thames Water has the highest leakage rate in England, losing around 635m litres a day. Again, the government has done almost nothing to ensure this improves. On the contrary, since 2002 the water industry regulator, Ofwat, has allowed water companies not to fix leaks if the cost of doing so is greater than the financial value of the water being lost. The logic of capitalism, in this privatised industry, trumps the logic of public service and resource protection.

Spending more to save the water than the water is worth is also known as making us all poorer. And why would we want to do that?

That is, this isn’t the logic of capitalism, it’s just good logic.

9 thoughts on “Err, yes?”

  1. It’s Monbiot, don’t expect logic.

    On Thames Water, one of the reasons it has the highest leakage is because it’s the biggest water company, which never gets mentioned. The other is that a lot of leaks are in London where there is the odd building or two that gets in the way of digging.

  2. I’d hope they would compare the value of the water lost PLUS the cost of damage done by the leaks. That might yield a different result.

  3. “Spending more to save the water than the water is worth is also known as making us all poorer. And why would we want to do that?”

    You are forgetting that water companies pipes are rarely located on their own land. They are on private land, or public land such as public highways, and they have statutory powers to install them against the wishes of the land owner. As such they should be required to fix all leaks so as to prevent damage to land that they do not own, regardless of cost. If they want to be able to let water leak away then they should have to buy all the land they want to install pipes in, and ensure the leaking water does not damage any adjoining property as well. Then they could do as they please. While they benefit from laws that give them powers over private land they should be forced to fix all leaks however small.

  4. Amazing! Monbiot obviously hasn’t noticed the rolling replacement of water mains that have been going on across London for the past few decades. They did part of my London street just after the turn of the century. Exposed was the emergency repair in the pipe done when a V1 took out several buildings across the road. That one had been leaking for decades & had eroded a whole network of underground streams. It’s an enormous, ongoing & expensive task.

  5. @Jim
    The cause of the leaks hasn’t always been the responsibility of the water companies. With my one, you could blame the Luftwaffe. Or the RAF for being remiss in their duties.. Many of the understreet mains were put in at times when the weight of traffic on the streets above them was a fraction of what it is today. So subsidence. They were never designed & installed for today’s world.

  6. Incidentally, there was of course a source of revenue would have paid for the wear & tear on roads & the services under them. Paid for by the owners of the vehicles caused it. It was the Road Fund License. More latterly referred to as Car Tax. Which got subsumed in government revenue & has been a milk cow for many other expenditures.

  7. Here in the People’s Republic, of course, we get our water from the glorious Scottish People’s Soviet for Water Supply (or something like that). Much more to Moonbat’s liking, I’m sure.

    I remember a couple of years ago, I walked past a burst main spouting water six feet in the air every day for six weeks. Occasionally there’d be a bloke sitting next to it in a van, reading his paper. My daily routine changed after that; I still don’t know when (or, for all I know, if) it was eventually repaired.

    All hail the mighty state!

  8. Reminds me of the recent/ongoing brouhaha over discharge of sewage into rivers and the sea. General drift of water company defence, I suspect, is that they can fix the problem – can in fact fix anything – but that the cost and the resultant doubling of people’s water rates would cause such a stink that the government would be subject to another major kicking. Naturally the government’s response was “OK, let’s forget it – carry on as normal.”

  9. I propose the government tax the Guardian a special surcharge to be hypothecated for spending on its peeve of the week.

    But since my brilliant suggestion of a special tax on socialists has never been taken up I have few hopes for this new idea.

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