Cambridge facing ‘crisis’ as as water company ‘fails to tackle shortages’


A Cambridge water company is failing to acknowledge an “unfolding crisis”, claimed councillors.

Cambridge Water has been slammed by councillors after a draft drought plan published this month revealed it has not enforced a hosepipe ban since 1991.

The utility company, which supplies 350,000 people and 9,000 business in and around the city, predicted the chance of having to do so again is five per cent – or once every 20 years.

Read more: Cambridge nurseries experiencing ‘critical’ staff shortages

Green Party Cambridge city councillors Naomi Bennett and Hannah Copley say the company has failed to acknowledge how serious the situation is and the role that over-abstraction of water, a result mainly of rapid city development, has played in causing it.

The councillors say the document makes little reference either to the direct, undeniable link between the rapid growth of the Cambridge area and water over-abstraction or to its harmful impacts.

The Cambridge Green Party also criticised the draft plan’s failure to address the negative impact of Cambridge Water’s activities on the environment. They have particular concern about chalk streams, which are under threat nationwide and for which water companies are expected to take responsibility to ensure adequate water flow.



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Cllr Copley said: “We are surprised and alarmed that Cambridge Water does not seem to recognise how big a crisis is unfolding. Since July 1, the company’s supply zone has been designated as an ‘area of serious water stress’ and the final drought plan must reflect that.”

She added: “Cambridge Water’s approach is more suited to Scotland than a region like ours. The company should take immediate action to invest in leakage control, compulsory metering and demand management, in line with its responsibilities.”

Cambridge Water said alongside its drought plan, a separate water resources management plan demonstrated it could meet current planned growth over 25 years without increasing abstractions.

Caroline Cooper, strategy and regulation director, added: “We are aware of the need to protect rare chalk stream habitats across our region now, and for future generations.

This is a key priority for our customers and we will continue to do everything we can to protect these rare water sources. We are also committed to ending unsustainable abstractions. This may not happen overnight, but we are already working with stakeholders in priority catchments to improve chalk streams, such as the River Granta, and our future plans will include doing even more.”

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