Water Bill

Supplementary written evidence submitted by Lucy Borland (WB 19)

Summary: retail competition is intended to slow moves to self supply by big customers as higher prices for utilities, technological change and the sustainability bandwagon prompt strategic review. Digital flood maps could be a glossy disappointment as Hurricane Sandy shows.

1. Peter Kenway asked what is the problem to which the bill is the answer? Retail competition on the Scottish model is an incumbent suppliers’ answer to the self supply challenge. The averaged pricing approach to mains water means that businesses who are net losers have a sharpening incentive to move to self supply as prices rise. As they do so, the incentives for others to follow increase as "stranded" costs are shared over a shrinking base. This is a serious problem if you have borrowed to build the stranded assets. On Professor Helm’s pay-as-you-go for capex model, this change is potentially very positive for the remaining customers, as the need to build new capacity disappears.

2. On 6 December, ProPublica noted failures to use best available technology for flood maps gave avoidable damage from Hurricane Sandy in New York. Lidar, collected by airplanes that shoot laser pulses at the ground, detects differences in ground elevation of 3 inches - a 10 fold increase in data accuracy.

3. The bill should be amended to create a duty for the EA to utilize best available technology for flood map data. This would improve planning and insurance, with street level advice on the height of flood water to design for, benefiting new homes, schools and other public buildings.

4. Link to article: http://www.propublica.org/article/federal-flood-maps-left-new-york-unprepared-for-sandy-and-fema-knew-it

December 2013

Prepared 13th December 2013