Anthony Browne, MP for South Cambridgeshire, is asking residents to engage with a new consultation from the Environment Agency to ensure Cambridge is classed as an area of “water stress”.
Water stress occurs when the demand for water exceeds the available amount during a certain period. It frequently occurs in areas with low rainfall and high population density or in areas where agricultural or industrial activities are intense.
The consultation seeks opinions on the proposed method and provisional results for the determination of areas of water stress and will run until March 11.
The determinations are designed to ensure water can continue to run even in a 1:500-year drought situation. The results will go to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs who makes the final decision as to which areas’ water companies are in different levels of water stress.
Water companies in areas determined as an area of serious water stress must evaluate compulsory metering, charging all customers for the volume of water used. This is measured by a water meter on each property. However, metering must be shown to be cost-effective and is presented alongside other options.
Mr Browne has been raising concerns about Cambridgeshire’s waterways since being elected, supporting the efforts of the Cam Valley Forum and Water Resources East. Chairing a series of meetings with Rebecca Pow MP, Minister for Water, he has also championed local chalk streams, which produce incredibly clear flows from stores of underground water that are normally replenished when it rains.
Problems were also raised in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Independent Economic Review, which noted that “without a resilient water supply, we cannot build the homes or infrastructure we need, our industries and communities will not flourish, and our agriculture sector will suffer”.
Commenting, Anthony Browne MP said: “There is no getting around the fact that South Cambridgeshire is running out of water, and this will only get worse as we continue to build more houses. I am asking everyone to engage with this consultation and learn a little more about the current situation.
“Ensuring our area is classed as water-stressed allows the Environment Agency greater scope to work with water companies to tackle this problem. As the extent of our water woes are uncovered, we can start to look at more permanent solutions such as new reservoirs, water-based incentives in land management schemes or even a national water infrastructure programme.
“I will continue to champion this cause – we cannot be left in the position where there is water everywhere else, and not a drop left to drink in Cambridgeshire”
Link to the online consultation:
It is also possible to submit a response by email or post by downloading the response form and sending it to:
Water Stress Consultation, Environment Agency, Kingfisher House, Goldhay Way, Peterborough, PE2 5ZR
Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org using the heading "Consultation response to water stress determination update".