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Water Shortage? Blame Climate Change!

March 19, 2019

By Paul Homewood



Water shortage? Why not blame it on global warming!



Within 25 years England will not have enough water to meet demand, the head of the Environment Agency is warning.

The impact of climate change, combined with population growth, means the country is facing an "existential threat", Sir James Bevan told the Waterwise Conference in London.

He wants to see wasting water become "as socially unacceptable as blowing smoke in the face of a baby".

"We all need to use less water and use it more efficiently," he said.

Sir James Bevan was appointed chief executive of the Environment Agency – the public body responsible for protecting the environment and wildlife in England – in 2015 after a career as a diplomat.

He told his audience that, in around 20 to 25 years, England would reach the "jaws of death – the point at which, unless we take action to change things, we will not have enough water to supply our needs".



Only one slight snag with Sir James’ little theory, there has been no reduction in rainfall levels in England, and droughts used to be much more severe and prevalent in the past:



Even commonly made claims that summers are getting drier do not stand up to scrutiny:



And just for good measure, the area of the country which is most vulnerable to water stress is also not becoming drier:




And finally, summers in England are not getting hotter. The hottest summer still remains that of 1976. Indeed, last summer was the only one other than 1976 which was actually hotter than 1911!




There may be many reasons for water shortages, such as increased demand and leaks, but “climate change” certainly is not one of them.

But it is much easier for Sir James Bevan to blame global warming and ask us all to take less baths, than have to provide solutions to problems he can address.

  1. March 19, 2019 7:07 pm

    Thank Paul. Saw Bevan on Sky TV News and in that report no mention of climate change. He did say he was deliberately provocative and the report focussed on water waste. In my opinion he went closer to looking like he didn’t know the root cause. He should have been talking about population growth.

    • Rowland P permalink
      March 20, 2019 1:54 pm

      I wonder what is the target population for this country now approaching 70 million. 80 million? 100 million? No wonder that our roads are getting totally clogged up.

  2. quaesoveritas permalink
    March 19, 2019 7:18 pm

    On the radio, the BBC seems to have changed its emphasis to the problem being an increase in demand, due to rising population (true, due to massive immigration), and the potential of “climate change” in the future.
    Apparently we haven’t been constructing enough reservoirs, due to opposition from people not liking the valleys they live in being flooded.

    • David Ashton permalink
      March 20, 2019 9:49 am

      I believe there is an EU directive which prevents us from building new reservoirs. This same directive demands that nations make greater use of “grey water”. I think I remember planned reservoirs were cancelled by the Blair government because of that directive.

      • Malcolm Bell permalink
        March 20, 2019 10:05 am

        Thank you David. I would like to get some certainty on this.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        March 20, 2019 1:16 pm

        Here perhaps:

        Council Directive 2000/60/EC which makes water a resource to be managed but also discourages new reservoirs. Cameron’s Liberal government stopped the provision of more reservoir capacity in the South-east (mainly Kent, Surrey, Sussex and London) where per head of population we receive less rainfall than Morocco!

      • Rowland P permalink
        March 20, 2019 1:57 pm

        Another good reason for getting out of the shackles of the EU along with its interference in our capacity market.

  3. March 19, 2019 7:23 pm

    Import 10+ million people (on top of existing native population growth) since any major reservoir building last took place and then blame the resulting water shortage on climate change – hilarious. They get progressively more stupid by the week these stories.

  4. MrGrimNasty permalink
    March 19, 2019 7:44 pm

    There’s been a lack of investment in new storage and distribution infrastructure whilst we have suffered an enormous increase in population from immigration that is most pronounced in the biggest conurbations.

    But if they tell us to use less, fiddle around fixing leaks, they might get away without spending any money – keep their profits up, and if it all falls apart – the climate change excuse is in the bag, and they can also persuade the regulator to increase our bills way above inflation along the way to deal with the ‘climate emergency’!

  5. March 19, 2019 7:46 pm

    Horrorbin was all over it on the BBC news.

    • Athelstan. permalink
      March 20, 2019 4:17 pm

      lah-di-dah, the know nothing and total science numpty roge’ horrobin: the pin up twat of all the climate twats.

  6. HotScot permalink
    March 19, 2019 7:51 pm

    S’funny, that since water became a privatised industry, there are now water shortages.

    Anything to do with supply and demand and the maximisation of profits?

    Mind you, they’ll have a really hard job selling this bollox in Scotland.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      March 20, 2019 10:28 am

      Just rubbish from beginning to end. Privatisation led to lower bills and vastly increased investments. Leaks are significantly lower as well. And water prices are regulated, nit subject to supply-demand pricing.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      March 20, 2019 1:25 pm

      No, it is not. Cameron’s liberals stopped proposed new storage capacity from proceeding and even if they wanted to the companies can’t get new storage approved. On the plus side I do receive excellent dividend payouts from the companies, an investment available to all and if you have a pension fund then you almost certainly already benefit from.

  7. john cooknell permalink
    March 19, 2019 8:03 pm

    I thought the climate change projections were for more precipitation? caused by more water vapour in the atmosphere due to warming?

    I don’t understand!

    i do understand that no new reservoirs and increasing population might be a problem. didn’t hear Harrabin say that strangely.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      March 20, 2019 1:44 pm

      Climate change can do anything. Some retard writing in the Guardian blames it for the New Zealand mass shooting!!!

  8. Pat permalink
    March 19, 2019 8:03 pm

    Find a guy who’s spent his career doing one job ( diplomat). Parachute him into a totally different job (organising water supply). Expect him to parrot the organisation line, because he doesn’t have his own base of knowledge.
    Similar to Gove at the environment, parachuted in with no time to do his own research so he parrots the department line.

    • tomo permalink
      March 19, 2019 10:10 pm

      It’s something of a time honored tradition at The Environment Agency having a “spokesperson” as chairperson.

      EA Chairman Chris Smith notably claimed to have discovered / invented a “new type of rain” – as detailed <a href=""here on NALOPKT

      We also had the EA snowman debacle

      Some believe The EA is the world’s most overstuffed quango – only the US-EPA has more personnel for 80 times the Environment.

      One dos have to be grateful for small mercies – Bevan isn’t Baron Smith of Finsbury

      • tomo permalink
        March 19, 2019 10:11 pm

        apols – small screen+fat fingers

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      March 20, 2019 10:31 am

      I don’t mind having a non-expert in charge of the review provided he us unbiased and takes evidence from all sides. Trouble is, neither really happens these days.

  9. Bloke down the pub permalink
    March 19, 2019 8:10 pm

    One option available to them.

    Click to access CCT-TW-dWRMP19-Response-2.pdf

  10. It doesn't add up... permalink
    March 19, 2019 8:39 pm

    The real problem here is the EU Water Directive, which forbids us to build reservoir and aqueduct capacity. Indeed, under the Directive London has already lost several reservoirs. It’s the sort of thing that Brexit could remedy if done properly.

    • Malcolm Bell permalink
      March 20, 2019 9:04 am

      Really, I was not aware of this?

      For clarity: you say tge EU has made it illegal for us to build new reservoirs?

      That seems extremely odd – albeit consistent with Brussels.

      • David Ashton permalink
        March 20, 2019 9:55 am

        See my comment above. I believe its purpose was to reduce the energy used in collecting and distributing water.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        March 20, 2019 1:59 pm

        . Considering additional water supply infrastructures

        The issue:

        In regions where all prevention measures have been implemented according to the water hierarchy (from water saving to water pricing policy and alternative solutions) and taking due account of the cost-benefit dimension, and where demand still exceeds water availability, additional water supply infrastructure can in some circumstances be identified as a possible other way of mitigating the impacts of severe drought.

        There are several possible ways of developing additional water infrastructures, such as storage of surface or ground waters, water transfers, or use of alternative sources.

        The constructions of new water supply dams and water transfers are subject to EU legislation. Interruption or transfers of stream flow inevitably change the status of water bodies and as such are subject to specific and strict criteria. In addition, large projects often provoke social and political conflict between donors and receiving basins, which calls their sustainability into question.

        Alternative options like desalination or waste water re-use are increasingly considered as potential solutions across Europe. Any definitive Commission position on these options will have to be based on further work on risk and impact assessment, taking into account the specific bio-geographical circumstances of Member States and regions.

        That is: first jack prices, then ration quantities and require economy of use measures, and only then consider infrastructure. But beware: you may not transfer water from one river basin to another, because this carries ecological risks..

    • quaesoveritas permalink
      March 20, 2019 9:42 am

      If this is true, then it needs to be given more publicity.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        March 20, 2019 1:31 pm

        Very true, Mr quaesoveritas, however we hit the problem of journalistic ignorance over everything to do with the EU, matched by MPs ignorance and unwillingness to admit that without a mandate they have handed control to the EU. Mail privatisation and post office closures also ends at the EU door. High Speed rail is also part of the Empire’s plan for connections across its fiefdom.

      • Athelstan. permalink
        March 20, 2019 4:19 pm

        Excellent Gerry, and bang over target.

  11. March 19, 2019 8:42 pm

    25% or so of water still leaks away, compared to 5-10% in Netherlands or Germany. Due to the perverse regulatory system water companies prefer to pay eye-watering fines rather than use capital to fix their pipes.

    • March 19, 2019 11:37 pm

      Netherlands have less leaks
      #1 Something to do with them having no hills ?
      #2 Maybe they use a different way of measuring leaks.

  12. Gray permalink
    March 19, 2019 9:00 pm

    Interesting to see on the beeb that someone who might lose productive land to a potential new reservoir was complaining that he would also lose income from a solar farm on his land.
    My better half suggested that he floats the solar farm on the reservoir so it can always get max solar gain by facing the sun rather than having to be fixed in one orientation.
    Two benefits from the land instead of one?
    What’s not to like?

    • John, UK permalink
      March 20, 2019 8:37 am

      Possibility of toxic metals passing from the solar panels into the water supply?

  13. Dave Ward permalink
    March 19, 2019 9:03 pm

    Just over a year ago Paul posted on the water shortages in Cape Town, which were also blamed on Climate Change.

    Here’s one of the comments:

    February 14, 2018 5:57 am

    I live in SA. Politicians have been so busy lining their own pockets, for years now. Many municipalities are bankrupt. Infrastructure is falling apart. The population is growing at an alarming rate and there is an influx of immigrants from all over Africa, putting a lot of stress on resources here. The previous government used to do thirty years planning ahead with disaster management in place for exactly this type of scenario. There was a warning in 2008 that this was going to happen, but nothing was done about it. Politicians were too busy stalling necessary projects to syphon money to places where their family and cronies could benefit from it”

    That pretty much sums up the concerns raised here. And as for the last sentence – I’m sure we can all think of a UK polly who fits that bill very nicely”

    • Dave Ward permalink
      March 19, 2019 9:06 pm

      Damn – I messed up the closing HTML tag! The final paragraph was my observations…

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        March 19, 2019 9:39 pm

        South Africa’s electricity supply is pretty messed up right now. There seems to be some blaming of damage from the recent cyclone but the problems have been serious since at least early Feb.

  14. March 19, 2019 9:43 pm

    Why worry? We have all those snowflake teenagers waving banners. They’ll fix the problem. Their creative abilities know no bounds.

    • Athelstan. permalink
      March 20, 2019 4:22 pm

      Especially creative they’ll have to be, coz in da future, there will be no lecky either and NO water, and life will be a bit like Zimababwe, short, painful and brutally cruel – that’s the Nth degree and the green loons will secure it for da yoof – innit.

  15. Gas Geezer permalink
    March 19, 2019 9:44 pm

    Bevan certainly isn’t wet behind the ears,he’s got with the programme ensuring a long lucrative sinecure.

  16. thomas carr permalink
    March 19, 2019 10:29 pm

    Sir James B: Not likely to have the knowledge or perception himself. More likely to be an oblique revival by the qualified in his dept. of the lobby for the funding of the water industry pet scheme for a U K ring main starting from the Cumbria. Better idea than HS2 perhaps.

    • March 19, 2019 10:42 pm

      Water flows downhill. Once the Cumbrian water gets to Manchester it can’t go much lower as the city is on the Mersey river and only about 30 miles from the west coast at Liverpool.

      This mammoth 96 mile aqueduct was built between 1890 and 1925 to serve the growing demand for water in post-industrial revolution Manchester. A true feat of Victorian engineering, it brings over 220 million litres of clean drinking water (11% of the North West’s water) from the Lake District to Manchester over a 36 hour journey. It is the longest gravity-fed aqueduct in the world and if its tunnel section was continuous it would be the longest tunnel in the world.

      • A C Osborn permalink
        March 20, 2019 9:27 am

        That says it all, VICTORIAN.
        When Civil Engineering was at it’s height and still stands proud today.

  17. Joe Public permalink
    March 19, 2019 11:24 pm

    Perhaps Sir James Bevan refuses to acknowledge the real “existential threat” –

    “Water leakage from UK pipes rises to over three billion litres a day”

  18. March 19, 2019 11:46 pm

    If we want to improve the UK water-supply, or anything else for that matter
    .. the first step would be to “Drain that Swamp”.

  19. Shalewatcher permalink
    March 19, 2019 11:59 pm

    Did I really hear Bevan say we may need desalination plants in the U.K. The man wants his bumps felt.

    • angryscotonfragglerock permalink
      March 20, 2019 8:07 am

      Great idea – use all that useless wind power to power the desalination plants and build small-scale nuclear plants for the grid. Lots of problems solved!

  20. A Norwich Tory permalink
    March 20, 2019 8:57 am

    It was quite a few years ago that the useless Caroline Spelman refused permission for extra reservoir capacity on environmental grounds.

  21. Malcolm Bell permalink
    March 20, 2019 8:58 am


  22. Peter Richardson permalink
    March 20, 2019 9:12 am

    I am a retired Scientist so have some skill in the critique of data presentation. The graphed data on rainfall speaks for itself- there is no obvious trend. However, the graph for summer temperatures does appear to show a rising trend from 1965 to the present. I know that this data has been criticised over the accuracy of measurement, but over such a long period it is tempting to suppose that this may be valid observation. Feel free to critique my interpretation.

    • March 20, 2019 10:25 am

      The Met Office’s graph certainly indicates a step up from the 1960s through to the early 2000s, but is there any trend since then?

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        March 20, 2019 10:36 am

        Funny the peaks post 1976 are sort of every seven years!

    • A C Osborn permalink
      March 20, 2019 3:20 pm

      Up until the 1970s the world was staring in to the face of a new Ice Age or mini Ice Age even though the world was still struggling out of the previous mini Ice Age.
      But as we know due to the Various Solar & Oceanic cycles that period from the 1940s to the 1970s was merely the downside of those cycle.
      The period since the 70s have been a combination of the continued relief from the mini Ice Age plus the upturn of the Cycles.
      Yes Global Warming has happened, but not outside normal limits.
      Now we have the quiet Sun to contend with.

  23. March 20, 2019 10:01 am

    An interesting paper from 2010 which concludes:

    ” In this study, the effects of changes in population on water shortage are roughly four times more important than changes in water availability as a result of long-term climatic change”

  24. March 20, 2019 10:12 am

    Perhaps we could use rainwater for uses like washing cars or flushing toilets. Don’t flush drinking water FlushRain!

    • Dave Ward permalink
      March 20, 2019 10:50 am

      “Perhaps we could use rainwater for uses like washing cars or flushing toilets”

      I’m already doing that – not to keep the Greens happy, but simply to try and keep my utility bills down…

  25. Jon Scott permalink
    March 20, 2019 12:12 pm

    Did you know there is a constant net immigration into the UK of between 200K and 250K people from outside of the EU? Does not make the news any more. Each year an historically unprecedented wave of people, largely uneducated and from a religion alien to everything we stand for comes in. I want to ask, when is the UK “full”? I think it is a reasonable question because there has to be a finite maximum. Surely before you begin this pantomime there has to be a “maximum” number discussed? At which general election were we invited to vote for this occuring? Also what is so wrong with UK culture that it needs to be changed? So what is that is that maximum number and is there any consideration of the ethnic make up of that number? We are being had in a big way and the climate change scare now being applied liberally is to prepare minds for when a perfectly adequate supply today cannot provide for the masses of people they seem to be welcoming regardless of their intentions once they get here. Bankrupt management of worryingly dark left wing politics being embraced by all parties.

    • A C Osborn permalink
      March 20, 2019 3:11 pm

      I think you are mis-informed.
      “Each year an historically unprecedented wave of people, largely uneducated and from a religion alien to everything we stand for comes in.”
      Every person coming in to the UK from non EU countries has to go through an immigration acceptance procedure, they are not “lust allowed in” as you seem to think.
      EU citizens of course can just walk in.
      However the rules were relaxed under the last labour Government.

      • Jonathan Scott permalink
        March 20, 2019 5:39 pm

        We can all “write” a process but just how competent is that process? Also more than 200K per year? Just do the maths and look at history. Visit any European country and you will find a completely incompetent immigration service which gives carte blanche to profile A whilst making life as difficult as possible for profile B irrespective or relative real hardship. Labels are applied generally. The lack of assessment of real need demonstrates the incompetence if not only the system in the UK but right across Europe. Just coming from certain countries is a fast track through the system with no real checks as to the provenance of the applicant in respect of where they lived. In a near by European country I spoke with a very pleasant Syrian family who were looking to rent an apartment which would be paid for as they were refugees. Upon sympathizing about how bad it must be at home the husband volunteered that they came from part of the country far away from the troubles but had several countries offering them to join their refugee programs just because they were Syrians. In the West we are told about the wretched war as if the whole country is involved and seems that is the level of understanding also in immigration services or at least the PC politicians who give them direction. I repeat 1m people every 4-5 years is historically unprecedented and cannot continue without massive problems resulting in resources alone. We still remember the Ugandan Crisis yet that was only 27000 people who came to the UK in a one off move, very roughly one tenth of those now being brought in every year and it is no longer newsworthy. How well we have been had.

  26. Ian Cook permalink
    March 20, 2019 1:05 pm

    As commented earlier this EU policy being exposed would be lovely timing if only we had an honest, unbiased ‘public service’ broadcaster. Whilst we are fed an endless spew of the opposite of the truth about the EU from the likes of Soubry, the water shortage is a deliberate ploy by the EU. Forbidding the construction of new reservoirs, the idea is that we are led to believe there are water shortages and so reduce our usage. And the EU stooges at the BBC are happy to do their bit. When are we not being lied to?

  27. Malcolm Bell permalink
    March 20, 2019 3:50 pm

    I have checked today with an EU lawyer and there are no EU laws or directives to prevent us from building reservoirs.

  28. Tony Budd permalink
    March 20, 2019 5:40 pm

    Now you see, if climate change means less rainfall, doesn’t that mean that sea levels won’t rise because there’ll be less run-off? No, wait a minute – less rainfall means that even though the air is so much warmer, there’s less evaporation from the sea, so sea levels will rise. But if the sea levels rise, the sea surface will increase, so there’ll be more evaporation … Hmmm

  29. March 20, 2019 10:02 pm

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News and commented:
    I wonder if the Environment Agency have changed their tune from April 2012;

    Thames Water wanted to build a £1bn reservoir in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, but the plans were rejected by the government. Anglian Water has also toyed with it in the past.

    “The water companies are keen, but Ofwat and the Environment Agency don’t seem to be,” …

    Because none of this is remotely new;

  30. jack broughton permalink
    March 21, 2019 11:31 am

    Loads of “experts and scientists” bang-on about using the off-peak / unusable wind and solar for desalination / hydrogen plant. Neither of these high capital investment approaches could ever make economic sense, especially with unreliable power. However, pumping water has three major pros:
    1. It is filling reservoirs so intermittency is acceptable;
    2. It is low cost low technology that ;and,
    3. Pump curves make windmills much more efficient over the range of wind speeds that apply than constant speed generation.

  31. Rich D permalink
    March 21, 2019 5:36 pm

    must be the only one who noticed “summers in England are not getting hotter” written above a chart showing the moving average increase from 1965 to 2018…
    food for thought

    • March 21, 2019 6:26 pm

      You need to distinguish between “was” and “is”

      And of course we still have not a summer hotter than 1976

  32. March 22, 2019 12:13 pm

    if it is a bad thing it is caused by climate change
    if it is a good thing it will soon be gone due to climate change

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