Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of witnesses (Questions 60-62)




  60. Is that really practical, to imagine someone could come up as a bulk supplier of water to any of the water companies?
  (Mr Fletcher) Yes, it is, Chairman. We are still at very early stages in this, but there are those already who argue that there are sources of water which are not fully exploited yet, and which could be further exploited; ground-water under cities is one of the sources that has been identified, altogether there are lots of technical questions to resolve before any of them could translate into supply of water to customers.

Mrs Dunwoody

  61. And yet, although you mention the fact, in this speech that you made, there is no national grid for water supply or waste water disposal and that competition must not endanger security of supply, both of which I should have thought are manifest, you do not go on to discuss that in any way. Because, presumably, if what you are suggesting was not only workable but sensible then you should come forward with a plan that says that we shall never get anywhere until we have a national grid for the supply of water?
  (Mr Fletcher) I am not saying that, Mrs Dunwoody, I do not think—

  62. No, I know you are not. I was just asking why?
  (Mr Fletcher) Just on the national grid, which is a key distinction between water and most of the other utilities, it is unlikely to be practical, for a very, very long time to come, to have a full national grid for water. Still, some companies, despite all the investment, do not even have a grid that runs right across their own region, for good, geographical reasons. Now, therefore, if we are thinking about competition, it has got to be done in a rather different context, and yet there are possibilities for supply; there are also possibilities for the retail end. The distribution bit in the middle is the one where a monopoly seems likely to continue for the indefinite future.

  Chairman: On that note, can I thank you very much for your evidence. Thank you.

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