Posted 21st March

Water shortages to hit UK within 25 years

21st March 2019 - 08:00am
kitchen, bathroom, waterwise, conference, sir james bevan, environment agency, water, shortage, uk, england, climate change, kbb, kbbdaily

Ahead of World Water Day – taking place on the 22nd March 2019 – Sir James Bevan, the CEO of the Environment Agency, pictured, gave a speech at the Waterwise conference warning that the UK looks set to start seeing water shortages within the next 25 years unless action is taken now.

“Climate change is what’s happening,” he told attendants at the Waterwise conference, which took place on the 19th-20th March in London. “It means that in the UK we will have hotter and drier summers. By 2040, we expect more than half of our summers to exceed 2003 temperatures.

“That will mean more water shortages: by 2050, the amount of water available could be reduced by 10-15%, with some rivers seeing 50-80% less water during the summer months. It will mean higher drought risk, caused by the hotter, drier summers and less predictable rainfall.”

Sir Bevan said the result of this will be many parts of the country facing “significant water deficits by 2050, particularly in the south east where much of the UK population lives”, adding that the growing population in the UK – expected to rise from 67 million to 75 million in 2050 – will exacerbate the situation.

“So what action do we need to take? In the face of water scarcity, we must tackle both sides of the equation: reduce demand and increase supply,” Sir Bevan said. “The good news is that we can do both of those.

“We can reduce demand by reducing leakage, by more water metering, sustainable drainage systems, insisting on new building regulations to drive greater water efficiency, and finding ways to cut down the amount of water we each use as individuals.”

He noted that water labelling could be a great asset to reducing water consumption in the face of climate change, by ensuring products like toilets and dishwashers “bear a label clearly identifying how water efficient or not they are, so people can choose products which will reduce water use”.

He added that better building standards would be another step in the right direction, noting that a mandatory water label combined with product standards and building regulations “could reduce per capita consumption by 30 litres a day in 25 years”.

“Climate change plus growth equals an existential threat,” Sir Bevan said. “To our economy, environment, security, happiness, way of life. We can choose to ignore this problem – or we can choose to tackle it.”

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