These Leaks We Don’t Need!

It seems that all water companies in the UK have been privatised, and are now overseen by a government department called Ofwat.

As the result of a couple of articles on water leaks, namely –

Most water companies not required to cut leaks before 2015 despite drought
Half of water companies not required to cut leaks, figures show

I decided to look at the Ofwat website to try to ascertain what they actually do to help the customers. They claim:-

“Protecting customers is central to our role as the economic regulator of the water and sewerage sectors – it is one of our primary statutory duties. We face a number of major new challenges that could affect the services we all rely on every day. To continue protecting customers in the face of these challenges we need to ensure we have the capability to be agile in responding to emerging or changing risks, and (where necessary) take swift and decisive action.

That is why we are adopting a risk-based approach to regulation – a significant change in how we identify and deal with risk.”

So much for the top-level blather, but what does it all mean?

If you look at “Valuing Every Drop”, it seems that they may have an idea about what they are supposed to be doing after all:-

“We have identified some key issues which show that there are examples of inefficiency – and potential inefficiency – from resources, through delivery, to the water that we all use. These include:
over- or under-abstraction of water in different areas
the relatively small amount of water transferred between different regions
potential to improve on current levels of leakage
scope for household and non-household customers to use water more efficiently

Ultimately, it is customers who pay the price for these problems. They pay for any inefficient investments. They pay for wasted water – whether or not they waste it themselves. And they bear the risk of higher prices or more frequent water use restrictions if supplies become unsustainable in the future.”

Unfortunately, in the next paragraph, they scupper that assumption by saying –

“Traditionally, Government and regulators have responded to individual problems with individual solutions – such as leakage targets. This has often led to a detailed regulatory approach, which can stifle innovation, and distract regulated companies from delivering the best outcomes for customers. It makes more sense to find sustainable solutions that tackle the root causes of any problems.”

So this is why companies are not being asked to cut leaks – because innovation might be stifled? I don’t believe it!

If you couple that with the fact that prices are reviewed only every 5 years, and that the companies are now being asked to submit a risk and compliance statement and publish a suite of key indicators, all of which they do themselves, it becomes apparent that Ofwat has taken an extreme “hands-off” approach to regulation.

So extreme, in fact, that I would ask what the heck they do with all the spare time they must have!

In addition to all of the above, I see nothing on Ofwat’s site to indicate what would be done if any of the available water catchment area was to be taken out of commission, as commonly happens during a flood, and floods seem to be more and more frequent in the UK than ever.

If you cannot replenish groundwater reserves and reservoirs because of drought, your only recourse is to save EVERY drop of water possible. That means leaks in the system take on a much higher priority than before, as the customers have no direct control over them.

Don’t fool around. Set all leakage targets to ZERO – NOW!

And then go back to sleep for 5 years while we consider if your function is necessary or not!


Embarrassing Moments? – Not Necessarily!

One day, in a moment of idle reflection, my mind jumped to a past experience that, at the time, had been a cause of acute embarrassment for me. That thought linked up to another such moment, and before long I was parading a sequence of such events through my mind.

Apart from a couple of unusual ones, most seemed to be coupled with mishaps pertaining to the alimentary canal, and I suspect that many other people will have a similar experience. Why? Simply because this is where things seem to go wrong most often.

My earliest experience was of filling my pants while at Sunday school as a youngster, and I was absolutely mortified!
The teacher was an absolute angel. She soon had me calmed down, cleaned up, and sent on my way home, with freshly washed underwear clutched in a bag, and a note of explanation for my mother.

Things like that are of course most difficult to handle when you are away from your own home. A similar incident occurred much later when I was visiting a girlfriend’s home for the first time. After an evening of well-lubricated merry-making, I woke up the next morning to find a brown stain on the sheets that had certainly not been there the night before!

Being much older at the time, I considered my options relatively calmly, and came to the conclusion that I could do nothing about cleaning it up, but would explain what had happened to the parents at breakfast. This I did, and was very relieved at the reply:- “Ah, don’t worry, that often happens to people who aren’t used to our local beer!”

So, no embarrassment after all!

I decided then and there that embarrassment was all in the mind, and there was really no need for it at all, if you could control it, and rationalise the reasons for it.

A change of water has the opposite effect, I found. Nothing wants to move! When you finally get round to having to sort the problem out, its difficult, as the size of the offending object blocking the passage has increased with every passing day. This was most apparent during a camping holiday in France one year. I kept looking for somewhere to go, but for some strange reason never found anything suitable. Eventually, my body was rebelling so much that the matter had to be resolved – immediately! The nearest opportunity I found was a wood – not as dense as I would have liked, by any means, but by that time I was past caring – it had to be now!

So, I accordingly prepared for action, and squatted, and waited for Nature to do its job. Unfortunately, this job was apparently more than Nature had reckoned with, and it wasn’t going to happen without some forceful intervention from myself.

So, I strained – nothing happened.
I strained harder – I thought I detected a hint of movement.
I strained harder still – and, yes, it began to move slowly. Ah, I thought, there is hope for me yet!

The joy and relief I felt when that lump began to exit the anus defies my descriptive abilities. But it wasn’t finished yet! It got so far, and then refused to budge even a fraction of an inch more!

What could possibly be wrong now, I thought?

Then I realised, I would have to adjust my crouch position to give it more room. This was a huge one!

Some time later – even though I was at home, I experienced an even worse situation. I was simply unable to move an offending lump out of the body. It was stuck. Strain as I might, there was no persuading it!

This is one of the times when I broke out into a cold sweat. Then I began to consider the matter, to see if anything at all could be done. Medication would have only caused additional problems, as to force things might have caused physical damage internally. And that would have meant a delay, in any case, after which the situation would be correspondingly worse. An operation? A horror to be avoided at all costs!

What could I do now that would help? I only had one answer to that question, and after a moment’s consideration inserted a middle finger into my anus, and started to feel for the offending object. At first I couldn’t reach it, but found by straining gently I could move it down to a position where it was accessible. Then it was a question of reducing its size with my fingernail until it was small enough to pass out.

This is something you can do for yourself in an emergency situation. Its your own body – don’t be afraid of it.

It is not something I would recommend asking a friend to do for you. Can you imagine how the conversation would go? “Up a bit”, “Down a bit”, “To the left”, “To the right”, and they cannot sense what is happening in your body as you can. There would be a serious risk of pain, or even damage.

What else? Ah yes – the Chinese Restaurant. I was happily tucking into one of my favourite meals when I had to sneeze. I had a mouthful of rice at the time, and the astonished diners at a nearby table received a share of my meal at unexpectedly high velocity. Well, nothing much to do about that, apart from apologize. Nothing to get upset about, or embarrassed, at all!

And the other one? Sorry, that is private!

Do you have any such moments that you would like to share?

Give me a contact address in a Comment, and I will start another Page if there are some interesting responses.