Monday 18 February 2013

Walkman, Kindle, Grid or HS2 (2)

Continued from "Walkman, Kindle, Grid or HS2 (1)"

I have a much better idea for an infrastructure project. Now we know that irrespective of the weather conditions over the last year or so. The UK actually suffers from a lack of water resources. We have a good rainfall profile, but we don't have enough real storage capacity. The  idea of a national water grid, to match the gas and electricity grids, has been raised on a number of occasions. The issue comes around whenever water resources become stretched. It is technically feasible to build such a grid in engineering terms. 

This would fulfil several needs. Including a large infrastructure project in place of HS2. Which we need to get people back to work and kick start the economy. Its also a plus on environmental grounds. The grid would become a huge linear water storage reservoir and if open to the elements provide a large catchment area. The water companies don't want a national water grid. It would make them dependant upon supplies controlled by the grid. The transfer of water within company areas and across local boundaries is a much more profitable option.

With the changes in recent weather patterns, and ongoing winters where the rainfall fails to replenish resources. The grid is going to be a necessity. The best solution, is to use the available infrastructure to move the water within local operational areas and the grid for the wider areas. Over the next 20 years, water consumption is going to continue to soar! Whether its built now or in the future the national water grid is going to have to happen.

There is no way that I could begin to address all the issues around the water grid provision using existing and newly constructed canals on my blog. But as waterway users we should take a keen interest in what is going on.  There is a possible funding opportunity here for a waterways charity if some sections of the canals become part of the water grid infrastructure. Widening and deepening of the canals for a start.
In terms of positive impacts, from drought conditions. It is good for people to learn to use water with greater efficiency. Which can go some way to help to keep the precious water from being unnecessarily wasted. Saving water by its self is not enough to address the problem.
Environmental issues. There are many environmental issues to be addressed around a national water grid. The first however is having enough water for various essential human needs. The water grid would kick-start more research into the environmental matters such as the impact on existing habitats.

Desalination. The water grid provision should also create a reduction in any need for ultra expensive desalination treatment of sea water.

Farmland irrigation. The water grid provision as a project should also be part of any system intended to help mitigate crop losses in time of drought.

Habitat and Leisure. Additional wetland wildlife habitat creation and additional waterways leisure provision is another hidden benefit of the water grid, but only on the parts that are not underground..

Reservoir projects. The distribution canals will themselves provide for a large water storage volume. In times of local flood condition the water grid infrastructure could also be used to syphon off large volumes of flood water. This could be a back up option in some areas that are building large flood containment structures.

Electrical power generation. The water grid could also look at power generation provision issues. Small scale generation of power is now more economical than ever. If the power users are local to the generation site then so much the better. This is not a new idea, using water to generate power for grinding corn has been around for centuries. Replacing the grinding wheels with a generator is the basic change. 

Estuary Barrage Systems. Research into the construction of barrage systems as an anti flood measure and power generation systems in some of our major estuaries is already going on a pace. Some estuaries could change into fresh water lagoons. This could be a better option than loosing land to reservoir storage provision. 

Water transport. Canals and rivers have been used for hundreds of years to transport materials. The economics of canal transport are looking to be a bit more of an attractive solution as road transport costs increase. Rail has increasingly diverged into passenger carrying with limited amount of containerised freight movement. As before the the location of the canals to the site of the industry is one of the deciding factors. But some waterways are also used to transport various types of effluent, in the form of flood run-off, agricultural land run-off and treated sewage run-off. This use of canals and rivers as a part of a water grid would require many existing sites to be improved with regard to their impact on the water quality.

Redistribution of population. Population growth in certain areas like the south and east exacerbates the problem. It has been predicted that the water supply for more than half a million new homes in the south and east of England will probably be inadequate without investment in new resources and measures. Why create the problem then look to find a solution. Provide the water provision solution before the major building projects start. It is easier to provide a new water grid canal so that the building projects can be designed to use the visual amenity that such waterway canals would bring. It can also be a solution to over excessive migration away from the city into the surrounding suburbia and the additional commuting chaos that would bring.

Employment long and short term. There are many different perspectives on the water grid policy, one key factor would be the provision of employment during the key building phase. Then the provision of employment throughout the system for long term maintenance. In other words the water grid should not be part of the water companies portfolio. It should be a national public asset.

I could conclude that we can’t yet predict what the real benefit of the water grid provision for local livelihoods will be in the future. But we already know what the impact on livelihoods are in a time of drought. We should be starting on the premise that the provision of a national water grid is a good thing and proceed from there.


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