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Water, water everywhere... and why it's so important

by Cllr Peter Bedford, Leader, Boston Borough Council

Water is life - it really is that simple. It is essential for life on planet Earth, and whenever scientists look for signs of life elsewhere in the universe they look first for indications of H2O. It can also be one of the most destructive forces of Nature.

Water is one of the reasons why I recently spent two days at the House of Commons representing Boston. The other day was spent giving evidence to an all-party Parliamentary group investigating social integration.

The "Water For Growth" launch also involved  Andrea Leadsome, the recently-appointed Secretary of State for Defra, MP Matt Warman, Mark Tinsley, Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership board member and chairman of the Greater Lincolnshire Water Board and Peter Bateseon, chief executive of Witham Fourth Internal Drainage Board.

Water For Growth is a plan to manage flood risk and water resources as a critical factor in enabling economic growth up to 2040, and has been drawn up with the involvement of 50 different local stakeholders.

Because of the low-lying nature of large areas of Lincolnshire, and especially the Boston area, and its proximity to the sea, we are already world leaders in controlling both tidal and fluvial water. It's this ongoing expertise that keeps our feet dry in developed areas, some of which are even below sea level.

The Water For Growth plan aims for Greater Lincolnshire to be seen as a national exemplar for water management and to act as an incentive for investors. It sets out the water supply challenges for Greater Lincolnshire and the potential for new reservoirs and water distribution infrastucture. Did you know, for instance, that some parts of the county are drier than Miami, Beunos Aires and  Nairobi and have the same rainfall as Cape Town.

A secure water supply and security from flooding are vital for the agri-food industries, and important for national food security. There is an anticipation that in Greater Lincolnshire this sector's economic contribution by 2030 will double, 29,000 new jobs will be created and 100,000 new homes will be needed to meet growth.

No other part of the country has taken this approach, or has identified water management as an essential factor in bringing about economic growth.

Water is an important factor in our Devolution deal, to bring in additional resources and so we can take decisions locally on such a fundamental issue.

We have already begun to do things differently with a multi-agency partnership to tackle the threat of flooding from the sea at Wrangle Banks where a section of The Wash shoreline is low lying.

We must plan to protect the most productive land in the country - 35 per cent of the nation's vegetables and potatoes are grown in this area.

Peter and Matt at water launch Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

Peter Bedford, left, with Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman, at the Water For Growth launch at the House of Commons.