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London’s water crisis: too little or too much?

  • London’s water crisis: too little or too much?
  • From 2015 to February 2019, there were 26,082 incidents of burst pipes in London.

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A new report by Leonie Cooper, Environment Spokesperson in the London Assembly representing the Labour Party, warns about an increased risk of floods and droughts in the United Kingdom capital city, reports the BBC. To blame are climate change, loss of green space, population growth and ageing water pipes.

The report points out that there have been more than 26,000 incidents of burst pipes in just over four years, and urged London’s Mayor to use his influence to urge water companies to address leakages. A spokesperson from the mayor’s office stated that Mayor Sadiq Khan is ‘already holding London water companies to account’. Next month, Ofwat is due to release its own report including plans to address leakages.

Ms Cooper’s report, Running out or Flooded out?, also highlights that although water companies have a huge responsibility for ensuring the resilience of the water system, all residents can take steps to reduce water usage. The average water consumption in London is 149 litres per person per day, 5% higher than the national average. To address this, the report recommends the mayor to collaborate with water companies to conduct an awareness raising campaign to help Londoners save water.

Other recommendations in the report have to do with encouraging water efficiency in buildings, and planning for the city’s future water supply. The latter includes the construction of a new reservoir at Abingdon sooner than planned, and looking into a new Thames barrier to protect the city from sea level rise.

These recommendations come in the wake of the warning by the head of the Environment Agency last March, saying that England could run out of water in 25 years. Furthermore, the cost of a severe drought to London’s economy is estimated by Thames Water to be £330m per day, with severe economic, social and environmental consequences.

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