AS communities in the Yorkshire Dales continue to count the cost of recent flash floods, and work continues to shore up Toddbrook Reservoir at Whaley Bridge, it is ironic that experts are foreseeing water shortages unless action is taken now.
This much is made clear by a timely piece of research undertaken by the IPPR North think-tank which warns that demand for water from Yorkshire households and businesses will outstrip supply by 2035 without early intervention.
It cites factors such as increased usage in warmer weather; continuing public ambivalence towards water conservation; the projected growth in this region’s population; the failure of firms, like Yorkshire Water, to take sufficient action to reduce leaks from pipes and the impact of energy policies like both carbon capture and storage, and also fracking, which are particularly water intensive.
Yet, given Halifax MP Holly Lynch’s proposed law change that could see water levels in Pennine reservoirs reduced at times of heavy rainfall in order to control the flow of water and lessen the likelihood of costly and damaging flooding in communities downstream, and, ultimately, major cities like Leeds, this critique highlights the need for the Government, Environment Agency and water industry to look again at this issue.
With neighbouring regions like the North-East expected to have a water surplus for several decades, the ability to manage water – and transfer this precious resource around the country whenever necessary – is probably just as important as every other infrastructure project, including HS2 and the Northern Powerhouse, that is currently in the pipeline.