UK sewerage – the money men doing the dirty ++ Thames Water

 The insanities of the 2008 financial crash are well-matched by the latest greed bubble to burst in broken Britain in the unlikely arena of water and sewerage. The story starts in 1989 when Margaret Thatcher, against strong public feeling, fully privatized the water and sewerage systems, the only country in the world to do so. Financial scavenger investors were handed a debt-free monopoly and proceeded to load up debt to pay dividends and did nothing to fix the infrastructure with raw sewage dumped into rivers and water pipes leaking. More than three decades later they have a collective debt burden of £60bn.

 Thames Water, the largest, on the brink of being renationalized has been through several owners in three decades – first Germans who didn’t factor in maintenance/renovation costs, then Australian ‘vampire kangaroo’ McQuarie who ran up £10.6bn of debt, while extracting £3 bn for shareholders and paid corporation tax of just £100,000, followed by George Osborne-sourced Chinese investors and Canadian, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait money types. It reads like a  bad novel, with as per usual hapless governments and regulators looking the other way.  

‘Only when the tide goes out’, as Warren Buffett once observed, ‘do you learn who has been swimming naked.’

The financial health of up to four other English water companies is being monitored. Between 1989, when the Government sold off the 10 main regional water suppliers, and 2015, water bills rose by 40pc more than inflation. Customers have been told to brace for rises of another 30pc over the coming years. ‘It amounts to a massive transfer of wealth from bill payers to investors, while the country’s Victorian water system leaks a scarcely believable 3bn litres of water every single day – enough to meet the needs of more than 20m people – and Britain hasn’t built a new reservoir since 1989.’

  The Water Act was given Royal Assent on 6 July 1989 when the triple conjunction of Uranus, Saturn, Neptune were in place. The Saturn Neptune at that point being exactly conjunct the UK Capricorn Sun – which might have given a hint of the mayhem to follow. There was also a ruthless, brutally determined Mars in Leo square Pluto in Scorpio.  The Water Act Cancer Sun was trine Pluto and opposition Neptune Saturn hinting at overwhelming ambition.

  At the moment the Water Act Saturn Neptune has moved by Solar Arc to oppose the Mars and square Pluto for a major standoff, indeed terminal catastrophe – as the scandal has finally breached, with rising public pressure for restraints and fines on the water companies. But the horse has bolted and renationalization at this stage would land eye-curling debt on the taxpayer with decades of costs ahead to upgrade neglected infrastructure.

 Not normally a subject I would get excited about. Nor do I usually spit teeth about the Tories. But I will make an exception this time round. What an unholy screw up.

I suspect we have still not grasped the scale of the changes wrought by the late 1980/early 1990 triple conjunction which crossed the UK Sun. Historians looking back may well point to that as a key turning point – and not in an upward direction.

Add On:

Add On: Sir Adrian Montague, a City veteran with experience in turning around infrastructure firms, has been has been hauled in as chairman of Thames Water to raise crucial funding. Born 28 February 1948, he has a strong-willed Sun Pisces on the focal point of a Yod inconjunct Neptune sextile Pluto; and is certainly tough enough with Saturn conjunct Pluto and Mars in Leo plus an adventurous Jupiter opposition Uranus.

  But even he will have his work cut out. Tr Uranus will square his Mars from mid August, which will be explosive and test his mettle; tr Neptune squares his Jupiter this year also denting a few high hopes; and his Solar Arc Sun will run into a car-crash square to his Mars in coming months into 2024. His Solar Arc Uranus is opposition his Sun in 2025 for a jolting upheaval – he’ll be glad to be out of what looks like a relatively short run.

  The company records have Thames Water Ltd as registered 1 April 1989, before the Water Act was agreed. If correct, it has a ruthless Plutonic yod onto Mars sextile Sun Venus which sounds about right for a financial rip off entity. Plus another aggressive yod of Saturn Neptune sextile Pluto inconjunct Mars. Not exactly a public service icon.   

14 thoughts on “UK sewerage – the money men doing the dirty ++ Thames Water

  1. This does, interestingly, tie to my work. I work for a medical device manufacturing company. 97 per cent of the revenue comes from exports, and the UK is the second largest market. We recently spoked with a nurse from what’s most sustainability oriented NHS buying group in the UK. She told me that they refuse to convert to a competing solution, pushed hard by an American based multinational, because the solution uses about 6 times more water than ours, and they always do include liquid management to their sustainability calculation for this reason.

    It’s an often overlooked aspect of the crisis – imagine all the hospital sewage water entering general circulation untreated. Not to mention how much water is used in health care, in areas where there’s general lack of water. Maybe it’s my Venus/Uranus in Scorpio, but this immediately made me think of healthcare solutions that would save water.

  2. Thanks for the astrological overview Marjorie. I agree the late 1980s to early 1990s looks like a turning point for the U.K. Water privatisation was never popular with the British public and Mrs Thatcher only got the legislation through Parliament at the end of her third term in office. Private monopolies are never in the public interest and the fact the water companies faced no competition meant there was no option for customers to swap suppliers so there was no market discipline. The supposedly independent regulators have operated hand in glove with the industry with a revolving door allowing poachers to become gamekeepers and vice versa while Parliament and government looked the other way. It has led to 30 years of asset stripping with the investment in infrastructure that the private sector was supposed to supply mainly noticeable by its absence. It is a mess which no political party currently has any real plan to fix apart from vague promises of tighter regulation. It is difficult to see how that would fix the problem when the current regulators are already failing to do their job correctly. Ironically polling of Conservative voters shows even a majority of them think the industry should be renationalised.

    • Thanks Marjorie, a really important subject and a kind of lens with which to view the whole mess that evolved from the Capricorn triple conjunction. It’s interesting that the ongoing sextile between Neptune in late Pisces – water and health care scandals, and Pluto in late Capricorn – finances, is in place at this point. As they draw near to the end of their residencies in these two signs, they may be intensifying their messages and symbolism? Water is, after all, the stuff of life itself.

      And all governments have known that privatising water, in this case, was a problem. There’s a headline in the Daily Mail of July 18, 1994 that reads: “Greedy Water Bosses Damned”. Just a few years into this ugly and ill thought through project, Saturn was 12 Pisces, Jupiter in early Scorpio, Pluto 25 Scorpio, Nodes 21 Scorpio and Taurus. Currently this warning phase approaches a Saturn Return. The Labour government failed as well, since there were warnings to government as early as 2002 according to a recent article in the Guardian. As Hugh writes, ‘no political party currently has any real plan to fix apart from vague promises of tighter regulation’.
      I personally have seen Thames Water ‘fixing’ burst pipes in exactly the same stretch of road near me, over and over again for ten years! What do they ‘fix’ them with? Sellotape?

      Overall, water companies here in the UK now owe 65 billion…..

  3. The Water Acts Chart has Uranus opposite Mercury in the 10th house – house of outward power. Whilst Pluto has just finished its first transit over the Water Acts Chart Uranus/ North Node midpoint on the cusp of its 5th house with its Solar Arcs IC/Uranus conjunction also sitting on top of the Natal Water Acts chart’s Uranus/North Node midpoint. A Pluto and Uranus double whammy! This is a perfect powerful storm, depicting something hidden exploding onto the media screens with outburst and heated discussions. As this midpoint brings in the end of Capricorn’s ruler of ” for want of a better description for the Rivers” – real estate with Capricorn’s Saturn the natural tenth house ruler holding court. This will rumble on until next year as the Government fights to stop this crisis imploding.

  4. Thank you Marjorie. It’s a disgrace that tax payers will have to foot the bill for this. With all the other price rises, the mortgage crisis, I wonder just how much more the British people can take.

    Regarding our Victorian sewage system, it’s interesting that the astrology of ‘The Great Stink’ of July/August 1858 has a retrograde Neptune in Pisces at 24 degrees and the North Node in Pisces at 8 degrees. Currently transit Saturn is on that North Node, no doubt

  5. IMHO opinion, the great fault of the UK drainage and sewerage system was the failure of the Victorian engineers not to build separate, parallel storm water and sewage drainage systems.
    Raw sewage discharge into rivers would never have been an issue under such a system.

  6. Just think:

    All of that money hived off to pay shareholders’ dividends over the years – it must total in billions upon billions upon billions of pounds – could have been used to update and restore infrastructure.

  7. Thank you for writing this post, Marjorie.
    It is hard to know how to contain one’s inner fury at the sheer reckless stupidity and greed of it all.

  8. Thank you Marjorie – a very interesting chart.

    This is not only an economic catastrophe of criminal proportions, but – damage wrought to our water environment in England has been truly catastrophic – particularly since Brexit, when strong EU regulations on water pollution went out of the window in the UK and the Tories stopped bothering about infraction proceedings for breaching the Water Framework Directive.

    In the Water Act chart, the ‘hidden’ 4th house (home, body, land) had Saturn flanked by Neptune and Uranus – illusion and innovation crowding the physical, practical resource in question – and in the second house, the Taurus house of security and physicality, has Pluto and the POF (FFS). It’s a wrecking chart, very clear.

    Clean water is a human right, and a right for nature as well. Privatisation of water companies has led to the company ‘assets’ (our water and our freshwater & marine environment) being managed for pure shareholder greed and speculation, whilst OFWAT, the regulator, has failed to deliver on any meaningful public duty the government has to the people it is supposed to govern the country for.

    This is a failure of capitalism and of government, writ large. Nationalisation is required and a massive cleanup operation desperately needed, funded by these greedy speculators and shareholders, not by the taxpayer.

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