sh.t in Rivers

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Gfamily
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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by Gfamily » Fri Jun 28, 2024 1:33 pm

Opti wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2024 11:33 am
Henley Regatta may be a bit of a shitshow this year.
The same insanity for the Olympics
https://www.theguardian.com/sport/artic ... s-olympics
My avatar was a scientific result that was later found to be 'mistaken' - I rarely claim to be 100% correct
ETA 5/8/20: I've been advised that the result was correct, it was the initial interpretation that needed to be withdrawn
Meta? I'd say so!

IvanV
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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by IvanV » Tue Jul 02, 2024 11:46 am

Doubtless many people living in less fortunate places will have a bit of schadenfreude when reading of the Chalfont St Giles stink.

Chalfont St Giles, 2023 winner of best kept village, withdraws this year due to sh.t in river.

This is not very far from me, and I find it a bit curious. Water levels in the Misbourne were not, to my perception, at record levels within my period of living in the area. I think they were rather higher after an even wetter winter in 2001. That time Old Amersham, further up the Misbourne, was much more flooded that it was this year. There was so much water in the chalk after that winter, that numerous temporary streams arose around the Chilterns, not seen in living memory, and we haven't seen that this year. The road along Latimer Bottom became a river and numerous houses along it were flooded. Numerous temporary springs arose underneath houses around the Chilterns, if their foundations had been dug into the chalk, and thus provided an easier exit route for the water from the chalk.

So quite why this year the Chalfont St Giles sewage treatment flooded so disastrously, when 2001 was fine, I don't know. I went on a walk - wearing wellies - a few months ago past the flooded sewage works, and waded through some of the smelly flooding, fortunately largely confined to the roads. A resident I encountered suggested to me that they could have straightforwardly prevented it. And that's several months ago. The waters are much, though not entirely, receded, have they not sorted it out?

Thames Water say they have sorted it out now. But the Parish Council suggests they are being a bit economical with the truth, which is why they have had to withdraw from the competition. It turns out that one different feature this year is that Affinity Water, the local water (only) company, has temporarily ceased water abstraction in the area, because of the risk of contamination from the sewage. So that is why the flooding has been slower than usual to recede. But it seems to be no explanation for why the disaster occurred in the first place.

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Opti
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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by Opti » Tue Jul 02, 2024 11:58 am

My moneyed friend who owns a riverfront house in Marlow can't go out in her kayak (she's a very keen kayaker) and hasn't been able to go out but once this year because of the turds floating past. On hot days she says the stench from the river is so bad that they can't have their windows open.

Her and some neighbours are taking civil action against the authorities. They have enough money between them to fund a good fight. She's coming over (to one of her overseas properties) next month so I'll post an update after pumping her for more details. After a spliff or 3. ;)
It does sound absolutely intolerable.
Time for a big fat one.

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by dyqik » Tue Jul 02, 2024 4:41 pm

The Supreme Court (The UK one, not the bad one) has ruled that water companies can be sued affected parties for trespass or nuisance due to discharges, even if there was no negligence or deliberate misconduct.

https://x.com/Feargal_Sharkey/status/18 ... 6123811184

Which means that a lot of lawsuits can now start against water companies.

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Opti
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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by Opti » Tue Jul 02, 2024 4:45 pm

I was just about to post that. Potentially very good news.
Time for a big fat one.

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bjn
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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by bjn » Tue Jul 02, 2024 7:36 pm

Having been financially engineered into penury, how can they pay any successful suits against them. If they go bankrupt they will almost certainly be bailed out one way or another by the public purse.

Macquarie Bank must be laughing all the way to themselves.

How would one go about costing what the privatisation and subsequent mismanagement has cost the country at large?

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Sciolus
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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by Sciolus » Tue Jul 02, 2024 9:34 pm

I don't know what you mean.
The board of Thames Water agreed to pay a £150m dividend hours before its shareholders U-turned on plans to pump emergency funding into the struggling water supplier, the Guardian can reveal.

The water industry regulator was examining the decision by the debt-laden company’s board to sign off the payout at a meeting on 27 March, sources said.

The following day, the company said an imminent £500m injection of funds that had been pledged by its investors would not be paid, amid a standoff with Ofwat. That decision threatens to tip Britain’s water company into public hands, with Whitehall officials war-gaming its temporary renationalisation. etc etc ad nauseam

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by IvanV » Tue Jul 02, 2024 9:50 pm

bjn wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2024 7:36 pm
Having been financially engineered into penury, how can they pay any successful suits against them. If they go bankrupt they will almost certainly be bailed out one way or another by the public purse.

Macquarie Bank must be laughing all the way to themselves.

How would one go about costing what the privatisation and subsequent mismanagement has cost the country at large?
Whilst part of the missing money arises from insufficient ring-fencing allowing shareholders to load it up with debt while taking cash out for themselves, part of the missing money is the unwillingness of the regulators/government to fund it properly to achieve environmental objectives. The latter problem exists whether the utility is privatised or not. Indeed part of the reason for privatisation was a perception it was even harder for government owners to put the prices up than private owners. And distinctive methods of making money disappear also exist in the public sector, and may occur on large scale. Water company debt is about the cheapest commercial debt there is, so it is not obvious that interest costs have gone up very much as a result of privatisation.

So whilst Macquarie can probably laugh, the broader problem of how to make water companies efficient, avoid any disappearing money, and fund them to achieve the levels of environment we desire, have not been solved. Indeed the leading theoreticians in this area, Nobel prize-winner Jean Tirole who wrote the classic treatment with the late Jean-Jacques Laffont (who would probably otherwise have shared his prize), suggest quite convincingly that there is no solution, only a least bad compromise. And so we have a choice over which kind of disappearing money we prefer. A perceptual advantage of the public sector is that the disappearance tends to be less transparent, and a greater proportion of it in the form of waste. But it is not necessarily smaller, just harder to measure.

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bjn
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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by bjn » Wed Jul 03, 2024 6:44 am

Several things

Government debt is much cheaper than any private debt.

‘Waste’ means the money is going to places it otherwise shouldn’t. In the case of a privately held company, this will mainly be debt holders, shareholders and execs. In the case of a public utility, this will mainly be feather bedding the workforce (the odd Michelle Mone not withstanding). I’d prefer any ‘waste’ didn’t end up in the pockets of the monied classes if we can at all help it.

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Re: sh.t in Rivers

Post by IvanV » Wed Jul 03, 2024 8:59 am

bjn wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2024 6:44 am
Several things

Government debt is much cheaper than any private debt.

‘Waste’ means the money is going to places it otherwise shouldn’t. In the case of a privately held company, this will mainly be debt holders, shareholders and execs. In the case of a public utility, this will mainly be feather bedding the workforce (the odd Michelle Mone not withstanding). I’d prefer any ‘waste’ didn’t end up in the pockets of the monied classes if we can at all help it.
For the period 2024-2029, Ofwat determined in Dec 2022 that it would allows a cost of debt of 5.34% nominal or 3.28% real, see Table 4.7 of this document. This is not a great deal higher than the gilt yield curve. But I couldn't quickly find what had been determined since that Dec 22 "early" decision, I think there should be a final view somewhere.

It is also a fallacy to think that public enterprises are supplied with debt at the gilt rate by the PWLB - it is based on the gilt rate. And loans are provided at fixed rates for various periods of time. If you look at the PWLB fixed rates charged, they are very similar to that water number I just mentioned. DMO has to fund its debt management activities, just like any other financier.

I have considerable sympathy your second point. We consumers fund that. And if the wastages are of reasonably comparable magnitude, and the wastage was largely in wages as you suggest, I would surely completely agree with you. But actually wastage isn't only in wages, it is also in other things such as misconceived procurement from third parties. You will agree that there has been a certain amount of that rather visible in the public sector of late. There's also the white elephants and grand schemes. When it reaches the point that the waste is extreme, as has happened from time to time in public sector organisations, and we can discover effective methods of making material reductions in cost passed onto consumers, on the whole consumers might not mind that. But in the end we reach the point of the public sector trying to make decisions about these things, and they don't always do it very well... There has been too much doctrine and helping your mates, and not enough demonstrably effective methods, not only under the government of the last 14 years, but also under the previous administration. Mr Brown had some similar activities.

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