At this year’s Waterwise Conference in London, chief executive of the Environment Agency, Sir James Bevan, warned that the impact of climate change, combined with the country’s population growth, means England is to run short of water within 25 years, reported the BBC.
“We need water wastage to be as socially unacceptable as blowing smoke in the face of a baby or throwing your plastic bags into the sea," he said.
Nevertheless, this shortage of water could be avoided if ambitious measures are put into practice, for example, for the people of England to use less water. Currently, inhabitants use an average of 140 litres of water per day, and Sir James says that people could cut the use by 40 litres a day.
Furthermore, water companies must cut leaking pipes by 50%, and there is also a need for new reservoirs. "We have not built a new reservoir in the UK for decades, largely because clearing all the planning and legal hurdles necessary is so difficult and local opposition so fierce," Sir James Bevan explained.
Sir James Bevan. Photo: Gov.uk
"If by 2050 we reduced per capita consumption to 100 litres a day, leakage by 50%, and did nothing else, it would provide enough water for an additional 20 million people without taking any more from the environment," Sir James said.
Sir James Bevan, who was appointed head of the Environment Agency in 2015, also stated during his speech, that there is a need for more desalination plants and transfers of water across the country.
In response to his speech, Lila Thompson, chief executive, British Water, said, “British Water welcomes the speech from Environment Agency chief executive Sir James Bevan about the UK’s pending water crisis and the “mix of methods” needed to reduce demand and increase supply. Water scarcity is a very serious issue in the UK and globally and British Water members are very keen to play their part alongside the water utilities, the regulators and the public in achieving long term water resilience.
“The water industry supply chain has a long history of innovation in meeting crises in water and sanitation evidenced over many decades. The UK already boasts a very broad range of technologies and expertise which include areas such as leakage detection, smart metering, data analytics and sustainable water management.
“As the UK’s lead trade association for the water industry, our members can provide knowledge and experience in every aspect of water technology, services and infrastructure. We are always ready to put those connections to work for the water industry in the UK and internationally.”