Provision of water during an
108. Severn Trent Water deployed over 1,300 water
bowsersvirtually the whole of the UK stockand delivered
up to 5 million litres of bottled water per day, with assistance
from the armed services, following the flooding of the Mythe water
Current Government regulations require water companies to
provide a minimum of 10 litres of drinking-quality water per person
when mains supplies fail.
Severn Trent told us that the Mythe experience showed this amount
was "unrealistic"; it said customers actually required
about 20 litres per day.
The Government has since announced, as part of its Water Strategy,
that it will review the current minimum requirements of water
to be provided in an emergency.
109. Current planning contingency also requires water
companies to prepare for an emergency event in which 200,000 people
have lost supply for seven days.
However, we note that 1 million people lost their water supply
during the 1947 English floods.
110. The biggest problem in Gloucestershire was the
lack of logistical support. Until the army was deployed there
was a serious shortfall of personnel capable of carrying out the
necessary operations. The water companies had never carried out
anything on this scale before and too many bowsers and other supplies
of water were not delivered effectively until well into the crisis.
Such a lacunae must not be allowed to happen again.
111. The Government
should revise upwards both the planning contingency whereby the
water industry is required to prepare for 200,000 people without
water for 7 days, and the minimum per capita amount of water to
be provided in an emergency. It should then ensure that water
companies are able to demonstrate that they have the ability to
meet these minimum standards, through the provision of sufficient
materials such as bowsers and/or bottled water.