Thursday, August 02, 2007

Good news!

Good news!

My parents and other family members who live in Gloucestershire got running water back yesterday! Yay! It came with a stern message from the water company though which read kind of like a set of water commandments, (though it was sensible advice) and lead me to have a Monty Python Life of Brian' type moment:

Severn Trent Water said let there be water, so that it may flow freely from the taps and put an end to the misery of thousands. And eventually there was water and the water company spake thus:

Thou shalt not drink the water less it make you poorly
Thou shalt not use the water for cooking food, nor for the preparation of food including the vegetables that grow below the ground and above and the fruit from the trees
Thou shalt not make ice with the water
Thou shalt not clean thine teeth with it, as it is not pure in our eyes
The washing of bodily parts and clothing and the flushing of toilets is permitted.

The water company saw that this was good and they congratulated themselves on their endeavours.

But the people cried up to Severn Trent Water and said, how come, during our suffering you reported record profits for shareholders?

I can't help wondering if this dire warning was more to protect themselves against court action, should someone fall ill rather than through a desire to protect the people. The area had been without water for 11 days in total and they were relieved to get it back but the fact that the company released their profit news at that time sends a very clear message about who their real concern was.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm doing my Business Masters Degree and I understand that private companies rely on their shareholders for survival. I also understand that they would have been concerned about their share price dropping and so took the measure of reassuring their investors by releasing profit news. However, I am also a human being, and I can't help thinking that such a release seemed a little bit like rubbing salt into a big wound. I know many of those without water did not find the news amusing or comforting, especially seeing as the water company had been asked by the Government to mitigate against the chance of extreme flooding approximately 7 years ago. I guess they had chosen not to in case the shareholders got upset at the expenditure over a risk that seemed so slight.

Water companies are crucial to modern life, perhaps more than others. We rely heavily on clean fresh water and we are lucky to have it. However, to me this means that these company's perhaps should observe Corportate Social Responsibility more than other companies and they need to look after the people that are paying for the service as much as those who are funding the company.


kenju said...

With all those caveats, why should anyone be happy that the water is back? LOL I suppose being able to wash bodies and clothing is wonderful enough!

Releasing that info now was tacky at best! Their PR people have no compassion.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I so agree with you B-K....The weater company sounds like it is busy covering it's ass, as they say....AND, also quite crass in releasing their "profit" information at this time.
I can see how for everyobe who had been without water for these past 11 days, it must almost seem like the water is kind of an Oasis that really isn't there...! How soon can will your parents be able to drink, cook, brush, etc...? Did they say that in their directive?

mar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mar said...

11 days without water!! although slowly, glad to hear things are going back to normal.
Strategical companies (water, electricity, for example) should follow other principles and not only profits...Which in turn implies that they cannot be solely in private hands...

Carmi said...

When e-coli-infected water killed 7 people and sickened thousands in our region a few years back, we were reminded how caring for the water service is nothing less than a sacred public trust.

Problem was, the utility at the time was in the hands of two men who never bothered to fix defective filtration and treatment equipment. To this day, it sickens me that our very lives remain in the hands of people like this.

Thank goodness things are heading in the right direction. Prayers really do come true, sometimes.

Catherine said...

That does seem rather insensitive, and you are remarkably tolerant in seeing their point of view as well as that of the customers. I do hope everything is back to normal, soon.
Our water supply here is in the hands of the City Council - I do hope it never becomes a private company, but that may well happen as has happened with many other essential services.
We have been discussing what we need to pack for our trip to the UK in September and my husband thinks we need an inflatable canoe :)
Here from Michele's for a quick visit on my way to bed.

yellojkt said...

I don't trust water I can't taste. Sounds like you have some really awful stuff.

Michele sent me.

panthergirl said...

First, I am glad your family is safe and things are getting better.

Second, what you say about the water companies reminds me of what we're dealing with in the US regarding the oil companies. The price of gas has skyrocketed, yet they are reporting record profits every quarter. Sickening!

Here via michele today, BK!

kenju said...

Michele sent me back, Bob-kat. I hope your mom continues to get better and that the water will soon be pure again.

Auntie Antiquity said...

Bobkat, glad to hear that the water runneth.. had that happen back in the days when we had a well, having no water STINKS, and so do the people after 11 days~ LOL

love your kitty! btw michele sent me.

colleen said...

What has the world come to when we have to buy water? Even bad water. We have certainly fallen from Eden again and again.

Dara said...

oh, do I sympathize with your family members! I went through this wehn I moved in January for 5 weeks and it got old FAST. I was able to use the water to drink and flush sparingly but nothing else - showers, laundry, dishwashing (unless I dumped the water off the porch). Michele and I are hoping it all works out soon.

barbie2be said...

glad to hear your family's water is back.

michele sent me today!

diyadear said...

ha the warning note is funny.. as u say it is mostly to save their own ass rather than for concern abt the people.. hope ur problem ends soon

A Army Of (Cl)One said...

This is why we have worked to prevent privitaziation of the water companies in our area. Hard to serve the public need when you are worried about maximizing profits.

Hello from Michelle

David said...

water is good, eventually they will get the clean type of water that is actually useful.
we have good water ( thoughits a dry year)
and no floods, just can't happen when you live on a mountain, it all runs off.

Sarch said...

BK I'm glad to hear that at least the water is flowing once again. The first step to your family getting back to normal.

It seems to me that the water company should have held the profit information more close to the cuff and dispensed it seperately to the people clamoring for the information.

Little Miss Muffet said...

there doesn't seem to be too much to do with such water that you can't even use for brushing or cooking! but i guess for anyone who has missed it for 11 days, even a small blessing is a relief..hope they get back to normal soon..

Expat Mom said...

Um, exactly what CAN you use the water for?

We often go without running water here for up to 2 weeks and it is never on for more than a few hours a day. But that is to be expected in a third world country, not a first world one!

Michele says hi.

aka_Monty said...

As a big Monty Python fan myself...I must tell you that I laughed and laughed, then laughed some more. Perfect. :D