England will face water supply shortages by 2050 unless actions to reduce usage and wastage are swiftly implemented.
That’s according to a new report from the Environment Agency, which has warned three billion litres a day are wasted through leakage, enough to meet the needs of 20 million people.
The organisation says population growth and climate change are the biggest pressures on the water system – it adds much of the forecast population increase to 58.5 million people by 2026 is likely to take place in areas where water supplies are already stressed, such as south-east England.
The Environment Agency says extraction of groundwater is not at a sustainable level for 28% of groundwater bodies and up to 18% of surface waters.
It shows in 2016, unsustainable extraction meant up to 15% of river water bodies were not rated as having ‘good ecological status or potential‘.
Around 77% of chalk streams failed to achieve this status, with water over-extraction being responsible for a quarter of the streams missing this.
The Chairwoman of the Environment Agency, Emma Howard Boyd, said: “Industry must innovate and change behaviours in order to reduce demand and cut down on wastage,
“We all have a duty to use water more wisely at home.”