Article by James Woudhuysen, who is visiting professor of forecasting and innovation at London South Bank University.
The smell around the water firms could hardly be more pungent. At the same time as they dump effluent into our rivers, the chief execs are earning hundreds of thousands of pounds in bonuses alone. They can even top up these salaries by sitting on the boards of each other’s companies.
So how did we get here? The blame cannot be placed on the water companies alone. The corporate failures are undoubtedly legion. But they have been compounded by an opaque web of state regulators and non-governmental organisations who also manage and monitor the water industry.
One thing that binds the regulators and the water companies together, and more or less ensures that problems go unsolved and the public’s needs are ignored, is an obsession with climate change.
The corporate water sharks and the bureaucrats agree that climate change is at the root of all evil. And as we have seen recently, both dry spells and heavy rain can be blamed on climate change. Regulators and companies tell us to save water when it’s dry – because of climate change. And then when it suddenly gets wet, the sewage overflows are also our fault – because we’ve failed to do our bit to stop climate change.
The first step to ending the outrage of sewage spewing into our waters is to reject this self-serving narrative, to reject the intimate relations between the state, water companies and environmentalists, and to hold all three fully to account. Britain’s bloated and ineffectual water bureaucracy – not climate change, nor the people – is the real problem here.