As a result of the heatwave, constituents have been contacting me, concerned about the forthcoming hosepipe ban being imposed by United Utilities. The ban comes into force on August 5 and will affect seven million of us living in the North West. Whilst I obviously appreciate this has been a very hot summer and water supplies are dwindling, I also share concern that our water supplies are in the hands of private companies with making a profit being their main focus.
Just two days before the water company implements the ban it will pay out nearly £181 million in dividends – the company’s single biggest pay out in a decade and will mean shareholders have received close to £271m for the last financial year, 2.2% more than for the previous 12 months.
Despite this, 25% of our water is being lost through leakage – this equates to 439 million litres of water lost every day – one and a half bathfulls for every property every day. Am I wrong to demand the dividends to shareholders be put on hold and that money be reinvested in our infrastructure to prevent leakage? It also seems implausible that this ban comes just months after some of the worst flooding we’ve ever experienced.
United Utilities – a FTSE 100-listed company is now seeking a permit to draw water from Ullswater and Windermere in the Lake District. It seems a damning indictment that if permission is given, a quarter of this water will end up being wasted.