Government announces water White Paper

The government has revealed it is to publish a White Paper on water. Richard Benyon, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Natural Environment and Fisheries, made the announcement at the Future Water […]

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By Kelvin Ross at Future Water 2010

The government has revealed it is to publish a White Paper on water.

Richard Benyon, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Natural Environment and Fisheries, made the announcement at the Future Water 2010 conference in London.

He said that now “is the right time for a water White Paper to provide a steer for the industry and potential investors”.

Benyon added that the White Paper, which would be published next summer, would be “a chance to provide a step change in the way water is used and water is valued”.

He also said that he was a “big fan” of electricity smart meters and believed metering of water was a way of tackling “the problem of energy consumption”.

“Metering gives customers information, and information is power,” he said.

Metering was also supported by David Nussbaum, chief executive of the WWK-UK. He said: “We have got to understand that water is a seasonal product. The price of water has got to start including environmental costs. That means metering.”

Including water metering in a wider energy-saving package was also put forward by Environment Agency chairman Lord Smith. “We need to get more intelligent about water’s carbon impact,” he said, and stressed that “we need to prepare everyone for different patterns of water availability”.

Lord Smith also added that he believed that the “fierce truth” of restraint in public sector finance would “stimulate innovate thinking”.

And innovative thinking was what was needed for the future of water, according to Richard Flint, Yorkshire Water’s chief executive, and Mike Brockhurst of Balfour Beatty.

Flint said that the water sector had to get out of the mindset that “the answer to all our problems is to build more things”.

Brockhurst said that water companies had to get away from “digging up the roads”, and called for a greater emphasis on training at the most grass root level: “The supply chain starts in schools and academia.”

Watch our exclusive interview with Richard Benyon on our TV player