Government Scores Poorly on Flood and Drought Action

The risk of flooding and water shortage in 2013 has increased because the Government is too slow in changing the way we manage our water, environmental leaders warn.

The authors of the ‘Blueprint for Water’ report say that after two dry winters, it took Britain’s wettest ever summer to narrowly avert a serious drought. They warn that despite this summer’s flooding, another series of dry winters would put Britain right back under serious risk of drought.

The group of 16 leading environmental organisations has published a scorecard which measures the Government’s performance against the 10 steps to sustainable water by 2015.

Chair of the Blueprint for Water coalition, Carrie Hume said:“Lack of action to fix our broken water system is a false economy. We cannot continue to lurch between flooding and drought which is damaging for people,businesses and wildlife.”

The Blueprint for Water coalition is a unique group of environmental, water efficiency, fishing and angling organisations which is calling on the Government and its agencies to set out the necessary steps to achieve “sustainable water” by 2015. The Blueprint for Water is a campaign of Wildlife and Countryside Link. The 16 Blueprint for Water coalition members are: Amphibian and Reptile Conservation; Angling Trust; Buglife;Freshwater Biological Association; Friends of the Earth; Marine Conservation Society; National Trust; Pond Conservation; The Rivers Trust; RSPB; Salmon &Trout Association; Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust; Waterwise; The Wildlife Trusts;Woodland Trust; and WWF.

Water Scorecard summary on the Government’s progress towards the 10 steps for sustainable water by 2015.

1. Waste less water: Progress has been patchy – C

• A lack of progress overall, despite ambition in the Water White Paper, Water for Lifeand elsewhere

• Excellent progress on standards at an EU level for public sector procurement.

2. Keep our rivers flowing and wetlands wet: Progress has been patchy – C

• The proposals set out in Water for Life are very welcome and we support Defra’s work on long term reforms.

• This should be complemented by inclusion of a timetable in the 2013 Water Bill.

• Alarmingly little progress on addressing current over-abstraction, with no clarity onhow the Water for Life proposals will be implemented.

3. Price water fairly: Must try harder – D

• Critical lack of support for universal metering in Water for Life.

• Some recent progress on definitions of water stress.• Only a few areas will achieve universal metering by 2015

4. Make polluters pay: Must try harder-  D

• The Catchment Restoration Fund has been established, but is not making polluters pay.

• Progress on the ambition for abstraction reform, but not sufficient to meet this target.

• Lack of progress on fines and enforcement, and cross-compliance.

5. Stop pollutants contaminating our water: Urgent action needed – E

• Poor progress on reducing levels of pollutants, with voluntary action not yet shown to work at the scale required.

• Poor progress on reducing pollution of water bodies from endocrine-disruptingchemicals and pesticides, which must be adequately dealt with in the waterenvironment.

6. Keep sewage out of homes and rivers and off beaches: Must try harder –D

• Continued, disappointing delay in the enactment of regulations for implementing Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS).

• Little progress on colour coding to reduce misconnections. Insufficient commitment to real time monitoring and reporting of all Combined Sewer Overflows.

7. Support water-friendly farming: Progress has been patchy – C

• Agri-environment targeting has improved, but there is still scope for better delivery of environmental outcomes.

• Excellent progress on using modulation of CAP funds to protect wildlife and prevent pollution. Defra must ensure joined-up thinking on farming and sustainable land management in its CAP negotiations.

8. Clean up drainage from roads and buildings: Must try harder – D

• Lack of progress on both National Standards and retrofitting for SuDS.• No roadmap for further action on SuDS.

• No clear narrative around the wider environmental and social benefits of SuDs

Patchy progress by Local Authorities.

9. Protect and restore catchments from source to sea: Progress has been patchy – C

• Good progress on the catchment-based approach and Nature Improvement Areas,which must contribute to a coherent ecological network.

• Poor progress on assessing the cumulative effects of river engineering.

10. Retain water on floodplains and wetlands: Must try harder – D

• Progress on capital spending for flood risk management.

• Controls preventing floodplain development less certain, despite a coalition commitment to prevent unnecessary development.

• No progress on protecting vital peat soils, or on supporting climate adaptation along river corridors.

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