Water & Waste roundup

The Army and other Services have been drafted in to carry out a “rapid inspection” of England’s flood defences within five weeks to assess the damage left by unprecedented flooding. More than 200 service personnel will be trained by the Environment Agency to act as flood defence assessors and will then assess 150,000 flood defences. Flood experts stress that they also need to inspect the channels around the defences to make sure that they are not silted up.

Ofwat has confirmed that only South West Water and Affinity Water have met the requirements for enhanced status in the latest price review and can now get started early on their next five year investment plan. Other companies have been asked to submit new evidence if they want an earlier draft determination. Key is a cost of capital of under 4%.

The UK up until last week had received 486.8mm of rain over the winter, narrowly above the previous record of 485.1mm set in 1995, according to the Met Office. Two severe flood warnings remain in place on the Somerset Levels. As of Tuesday there were also 22 flood warnings and 95 flood alerts across England, 2 flood alerts and 7 warnings in Scotland and none in Wales.

The Thames Barrier was closed for the 197th time on Tuesday, the 43rd of this winter. Most of the recent closures have been to help manage upstream flooding. Throughout the country 1.3M properties have been protected from the recent flooding according to the Environment Agency; 4000 properties have been flooded compared to 8000 in 2007. There are 55 new flood defence schemes to be built this year.

From April water companies will have to have more non executive members on their boards than executives or investors, Ofwat has confirmed. Audit and remuneration committees should also have a majority of independent board members. The move is part of a drive to make water companies improve their board leadership, transparency and governance, Ofwat said.