From: Associated Press
Published May 24, 2006 12:00 AM

Desalination Plant Planned for London Would Increase Carbon Emissions, Mayor Tells Inquiry

LONDON — London's mayor, who has refused permission for a River Thames desalination plant, says the installation would increase carbon emissions while failing to meet London's water needs, the mayor's lawyers said Tuesday at a public inquiry.

Thames Water is appealing Mayor Ken Livingstone's rejection of the plant site on the north bank of the River Thames at Beckton in east London.

The mayor also argues that Thames Water, which wants to build Britain's first plant to convert salt water into drinking water, has failed to stem massive leaks from its pipe network and wastes millions of liters (gallons) of water a year.

Livingstone argues that there are better, cleaner, cheaper and less wasteful alternatives to the planned 200 million-pound (US$376 million; euro300 million) desalination plant.

The plant would be the first in London to take water from the tidal stretch of the Thames and desalinate it.

Thames Water, which provides potable water for 6.2 million people in the capital, says the plant would provide a secure water supply for London.

"The situation is that London's water supply capability falls well below the level that (the water industry watchdog) Ofwat and the Environment Agency have determined should apply," Keith Lindblom, the lawyer for Thames Water, told Tuesday's hearing.

But John Hodgson, Livingstone's lawyer, told the inquiry in Docklands, east London, "Every single day Thames Water leaks a staggering 915 million liters (240 million gallons) of clean, purified drinking water from Thames's own pipes - that's 6 1/2 times the capacity of the proposed desalination plant."

If Thames Water used the plant the way it predicts, the facility would emit 22,600 tons of carbon dioxide per year, he said.

The plant would not supply London's current water deficit, let alone the increase in water demand as the capital grows, he added.

The hearing continues.

Source: Associated Press

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