§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what is his estimate of the time it will take to 31W restore normal water levels, assuming average rainfall from now on;
(2) what plans his Department is making in connection with a national water supply grid system;
(3) what would be the estimated cost of constructing a national water grid system;
(4) how long it would take to construct a national water grid system;
(5) if he will make a statement on the national water situation.
§ Mr. Denis Howell
The time necessary to restore normal water levels, assuming average rainfall, will vary across the country depending on the type of catchment area and other factors; underground sources may take up to six months or more to recover, whilst most surface sources could be expected to recover rather sooner. I hope to make a statement on the national water situation shortly in the light of the National Water Council's report "Water Supply Prospects for 1977".
The importance that the Government attach to the transfer of water across water authority boundaries and the redeployment of water sources between areas as part of a national strategy was set out in the consultative document "Review of the Water Industry in England and Wales", published in March. As the NWC's report explains, considerable potential already exists for the interchange of supplies, which has been demonstrated during the drought, and other major schemes either under construction or at the planning stage are identified. It is not possible to put a precise cost and time scale to progressive development of this kind.
§ Mr. David Price
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment in the light of the recent drought, what steps he intends to take in conjunction with the water authorities to secure better water supplies in years of drought; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Denis Howell
I have received the National Water Council's report on water supply prospects for 197.7 and am studying it urgently. I hope to be in a position to make a statement shortly.32W