Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Water mis-management


, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Wednesday morning. A bright sunny morning, although like on Monday, it is not long until the clouds have come over, as the train sprints south towards Rotterdam, through the fields of the green heart of Holland. Hope fully, the day will not end as miserably as Monday, when it felt cold as the rain poured and poured out of the sky.

I was going to work at home today as there is hardly anyone in the office on a Wednesday. Many women work part-time and choose to take Wednesday off, as their children have the afternoons off during term times. If I am going to spend the day on the computer and with the telephone, I might as well do that at home. However, Fred is back, fresh from his week in eastern Germany, Czech Republic and, for a few kilometers, Poland. He said he rather fancied having the house to himself rather than having me as a distraction. Fair enough. It is nice to have the house to yourself every now and then, so here I am on the train, having just arrived in Gouda (again).

We have avoided the terrible floods they have had in England and have not really had the terrible downpours that they have had there, thank goodness, but if there is one thing that the Dutchies do very well, it is water management. One cannot help but think that the English could have done better to manage their water better, improving drainage, building water defences, using flood plains for their original purpose and so on. I remember Mrs Thatcher privatizing the water companies saying that they would bring so much investment in Britain’s ageing water management infrastructure. Twenty years later, the water companies have all been bought up by the French, they charge ever increasing amounts for the water, while there seem to be more and more restrictions on the use of water and the shareholders have made massive profits and reaped high dividends. But where was the investment? The investment which was so needed twenty years ago and which Thatcher said could be provided by the new private companies? That money has been paid out to fat cat directors and shareholders whilst far too little has been done to modernize and improve the water systems. A scandal, and now many are suffering. Why does the government not use its powers just to tell these companies to get on with their task of improving the infrastructure and to hell with the dividends and fat cat bonuses?

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