Moving Water Around

17:23 Tuesday 10th April 2012
Drive BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

CHRIS MANN: Anglian Water is in talks with another English water company over trading supplies. It could eventually lead to more supplies for Cambridgeshire, but that prospect, many months off. In the meantime, the hosepipe ban which began last week stays in place, apparently unaffected by the weekend rain. Earlier, John Clare from Anglian Water explained the proposal for water sharing with Severn Trent. (TAPE)
JOHN CLARE: What Severn Trent are proposing, and this is one of a number of schemes which might come to fruition in the coming months or so, is that they can take water from Birmingham. They have bore holes in Birmingham which take water from the aquifers under the city. And they can, by using the existing river system, transfer some of that water to Lincolnshire, where we would be able to use it to supply customers.
CHRIS MANN: And would that filter its way down to Cambridgeshire? Or would it affect the supply here?
JOHN CLARE: No, no. Basically what it would mean is that we had more water available to move around. But it would be Lincolnshire that benefited, I think, directly from this particular scheme. We’re talking constantly to all our neighbouring water companies about how we can all best share the water that’s available, and use the interconnections that may exist. So this is one scheme, and there may be others. And certainly, looking into the future, if dry weather is what we’re going to be getting, then we need to be looking at this sort of thing.
CHRIS MANN: So you might look at it for Cambridgeshire.
JOHN CLARE: Oh absolutely. If connections existed, and it was possible to find water which we could use for customers here, then certainly we would explore that.
CHRIS MANN: We’ve talked about what might happen in the future, and you’ve said to us that it’s not really possible to move for instance water in Scotland to England, because it’s very heavy, and too expensive.
JOHN CLARE: It costs a great deal of money. That’s right. Because water is very heavy. If you’re looking at what people think of, when they say a national grid, moving that water right from the North of Scotland down to the South of England, I think that is very difficult to achieve. What we’re looking at here is something on a much more regional scale. So in this particular instance, for example, they would take the water from Birmingham. It would go into the River Tame as I understand it, then into the Trent, and then into rivers in Lincolnshire, where we abstract. So it’s about using or improving inter-connectedness, I suppose, between existing networks, that’s the key, rather than creating a whole new supergrid over the top. It’s looking at how we can push water around between neighbours, I suppose.
CHRIS MANN: We’re just in the early days of this hosepipe ban. What can you report? Anyone breaking it. (THEY LAUGH)
JOHN CLARE: I haven’t got any figures for you available, breaking it at the moment. I’m very much hoping, as I’ve said before all along Chris, we have faith in our customers that they understand the need for the ban, and that they’ll do the right thing and observe it. We’re not out there trying to catch anybody. We’re hoping that people will police it largely in their own conscience.
CHRIS MANN: A little bit of rain over the weekend. Has that helped?
JOHN CLARE: No. I’d like to say yes.
JOHN CLARE: It’s typical that it should be the Bank Holiday whn it does rain. But no. Sadly what we really need Chris, we need rain in the autumn and the winter, because that’s when it’s available to us. That’s when it gets into the rivers and the ground waters and we can take it and bank it. I’m afraid that the ground is very dry at the moment, and the plants are all waking up. It’s Spring, the leaves are on the tree, so any rain that does fall, whilst very welcome to farmers I’m sure, and to wildlife, is going to be taken up by plants largely, and soak into a dry ground. And we’re not going to get at it, sadly. (LIVE)
CHRIS MANN: John Clare, from Anglian Water.