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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 October, 2003, 13:10 GMT
Plans for new reservoirs
The reservoir plan for Abingdon
New houses being built in the South East mean water demand is rising
Seven new reservoirs could be built across the South East to cope with the rise in demand for water.

A joint investigation by BBC's Countryfile programme and the Independent on Sunday discovered that water companies are planning to flood thousands of acres of farmland.

Among the places earmarked for new reservoirs are Canterbury, in Kent, and Abingdon in Oxfordshire, where plans which had been discarded years ago have now been revived.

Thames Water first presented plans for a reservoir in Abingdon in 1990 but they were withdrawn after being told they had to deal with leakage from water mains first.

Possible water restriction

Now it has been revealed the water company has revived the scheme and has included the proposal in its business plan.

If built, the reservoir would cover half of farmer Neil Walker's fields and buildings.

He said: "We could literally end up under 40 feet of water."

But water companies say new reservoirs are needed because of all the new homes being built and the increased amount of water being used with dishwashers and power showers.

Dr Peter Spillet, from Thames Water, said: "When you look ahead 20 to 25 years we can see a big gap developing between supply and demand and we have used the more conventional more economical, least cost approaches we can think of.

The site of the planned reservoir in Kent
Mid Kent Water already owns some land earmarked for the reservoir

"A large, regulating reservoir up stream would be a good solution."

The seven reservoirs would only be built if permission was granted from the government and the Environment Agency.

But Baroness Young, Environment Agency chief executive, said: "The point we are making in being pretty resistant to reservoirs is that most companies that put forward proposals for reservoirs are not thinking about how they can reduce customers' demand and manage their leakage effectively as a first step."

She also said if there was a dry winter there may be restrictions on water usage in the spring and summer next year.

In Kent, plans have been revived for a mile-and-a-half long reservoir in Broad Oak. The proposals were first drawn up in 1974.

Mid Kent Water has said it is needed because of the thousands of new homes planned for the county.

Reservoirs hit seven-year low
08 Oct 03  |  Devon
100m reservoir plan revived
01 Sep 03  |  Kent


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