UK drought: Pump water from Wales to London to help solve water shortage, says GMB union

The GMB Union London has proposed pumping water rom Lake Vyrnwy in Powys to London. Credit: PA/Visit Wales

Water from a reservoir in Wales should be moved to London and the south east of England to help with the drought, a London-based union has said.

GMB London, a union that represents water workers, has proposed reviving the so-called "win-win" plan from the Victorian era to move water from Welsh lakes to help with the current water insecurities in the south-east of England.

The proposed plan would see water taken from United Utilities at Lake Vyrnwy in Powys via the restoration of the Cotswold canals and Sapperton Canal Tunnel in Gloucester.

GMB London has said the plan could help to deal with periodic droughts in and around London.

Moving water around the UK is by no means a new idea and the union's call to use Welsh reservoirs to provide water to England may prove controversial, with some reservoirs in Wales showing lower water levels than usual.

However, the union has insisted the plan would be "win-win" for both Wales and England.

Mark Holland, GMB London Regional Organiser for the water industry, said: "Thames Water should accept the water being offered by United Utilities from Lake Vyrnwy and get it to the Thames via the restoration of the Cotswold canals and Sapperton tunnel.

London has been subject to raging fires, scorched fields and dwindling water resources Credit: PA

"This plan was covered in the Thames Water 2019 draft plan for water supply for London in the 21st century but is not included in the current list of things Thames Water plan to do.

“Instead of this very workable plan one of the things Thames Water is planning to rely on is the hope of consumers cutting daily consumption from 145 litres to 125 litres."

GMB London has called the plan "common sense and financially viable" and has said it would be easier than building a new reservoir at Abingdon, a proposal which has been circulating since 2006.

'Nothing comes for free in this world'

Welsh reservoirs and lakes, such as Llyn Aled Isaf, are also at lower levels than normal Credit: Dwr Cymru

However, the GMB Union in Wales has not endorsed the suggestion.

Tom Hoyles, GMB political officer said: "Any proposals are currently at an exploratory phase and are not official union policy.

“GMB Wales believes discussions on this matter need far more detail as to how the infrastructure would be developed, how it would affect our workers on the ground and how the water would be paid for.

“Nothing comes for free in this world."

A hosepipe ban comes into force for parts of Wales on August 19. Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water has plans to inform customers of the need to protect water supplies and manage demand through "enhanced and targeted leakage control and/or pressure management" if water becomes scarce.