The UK could be facing water shortages as soon as 2050 if collective action isn’t taken, the head of the country’s Environment Agency has said.
Speaking to Sky News, Emma Howard Boyd highlighted the potential scale of the problem noting that, without taking action together to look after the UK’s water resources, “by 2050 we could find parts of this country living under severe water stress”.
Ms Howard Boyd also revealed that maintaining access to clean water for members of the public might not always mean turning on the tap, with the likes of communal taps and bottled water among the solutions that could be called upon.
Consumers are therefore being urged to do their part to limit their water usage, while the Environment Agency also stressed that water suppliers need to do more to reduce the leakage currently experienced in the system.
There is also the possibility that bills could increase for consumers as the Environment Agency and water suppliers look for solutions to ensure a clean water supply for all.
“It is very clear that the country as a whole needs to pay for the environment that we want and we may all have to step up, including customers, for clean, plentiful water,” Ms Howard Boyd told the news provider.
As a business, water use may be an area that you don’t give much thought to, but you could likely reduce your monthly bills if you switch water supplier. If bills do start to rise as a result of the investment required to pay for our water supplies, there will be even greater incentives for businesses to shop around for the best water tariffs available.
She also stressed the need for everyone involved in the water supply chain to work together to find solutions to enable them to effectively store water during times when it is in plentiful supply to ensure it is then available when shortages occur.
Part of the challenge is that the UK currently doesn’t have enough infrastructure to store the water we could otherwise collect during wetter winters. This means that when the longer and drier summers that are becoming more common as a result of climate change occur, we face water shortages, despite high levels of rainfall in the winter months.
A spokesperson from Ofwat, the water services regulatory authority, told Sky News that it is working with water companies to find practical solutions to issues relating to water supplies, including at how best to share water between wetter regions of the country (such as the north-west) and drier areas (such as the south-east).
As an article for Edie noted last year, there is a significant gap in understanding about the issues of water shortages among the British public.
In fact, a survey conducted in 2020 found that 72 per cent of those surveyed in Great Britain believe the country has enough water to meet its daily demands. However, the research also found that many have failed to consider the impacts of population growth and climate change on future water supplies.
This was highlighted by the fact that just ten per cent of those questioned thought of water supply as a key environmental concern, compared to 39 per cent who cited plastic pollution and 22 per cent who named energy consumption.