The start of the Planning Inspectorate Public Inquiryy into a proposed £200 million water de-salination plant in Beckton, has kicked off with a press release war between the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone and Thames Water.
Neither side is entirely convincing - it must be insane to waste ever more expensive electricity on producing drinkable water, when, as Ken points out so much is wasted through leakage.
When Thames Water talk about the "cost effectiveness" of infrastructure investment decisions, they really mean "still leaving us with a fat profit". Where exactl;y do they get their estimates for population growth from ?
However Ken's vague handwaving plans and estimates do not add up either.
This is not suddenly a new problem and it is not just a London problem either, but one for the whole South and East of England.
It needs a Central Government national strategy and the investement in some national water grid pipelines from Wales and Scotland, where there is plenty of water. Plans for such a system have existed since the early 1970's, well before the dubiious privatisation of the water companies.
If the Romans could build long gravity fed aqueducts over 2000 years ago, today's civil engineers can certainly build a national water grid.
There are many irrigation schemes around the world which cover much larger distances than any required in this small country.