Drinking water has begun to run out in areas of the UK already cut off by some of the worst flooding for the 60 years. Many thousands of people in central England could find their supply cut off or unusable after sewage overflowed into a treatment plant in the town of Tewkesbury.
The RAF says this has been its biggest peacetime rescue operation. Conservative leader David Cameron has called for a public inquiry into the crisis, which has already been billed at three billion euros. But Environment Minister Hilary Benn defended the government’s response:
“There is a broader problem here which is about the capacity of the drainage system to cope with these levels of rainfall because we are dealing with the legacy of 100-plus years of water systems that weren’t designed for that. One of the most important things that we can do as further development takes place is to ensure that there is an effective flood defence and that the drainage capacity can cope with it.”
The rain has stopped for now but run-off from the hills feeding into the Rivers Avon and Severn means that floodwaters there are rising instead of falling, as they are elsewhere. Residents have been urged not to panic
But news of the shortages prompted panic buying of supplies of bottled water in many areas.