The Environmental Agency’s chief executive, Sir James Bevan, has warned that England could run out of water within the next 25 years. This will undoubtedly come as a shock to consumers, but is it true? Could the UK soon find itself in the midst of a water shortage?
Here, we’ll look at what the future might hold for the UK’s water and how the current challenges can be overcome.
Why might the country run out of water in 25 years?
There are a number of risks to the UK’s future water supply. According to Bevan, the country is heading towards the jaws of death. This is basically where the demand for water will surpass the supply.
Both over-population and climate change contribute to this potentially grave outcome. Water companies across the country all agree that climate change is the biggest risk to their operations. It is estimated that by the year 2040, UK summers will be hotter half of the time, than the memorable heat wave we experienced in 2003. This not only means we’ll be using more water, but it could also cause the rivers to dry up by as much as 50% to 80%.
The population is also expected to grow from 65 million to a staggering 75 million by 2050. So, the demand for water will also significantly increase. Other challenges faced in the industry include water waste and leaks. It is estimated that around a third of all water is lost due to these two issues alone.
What can be done to reduce the risks?
Although the news we could run out of water in the UK within 25 years is worrying, Bevan claims it’s not too late to stop it. Reducing the amount of water households use is going to be key to tackling wastewater. It is thought that the average household uses 150 litres of water a day. In order to reduce the risks of a water shortage, the goal is to reduce this to around 100 litres per household per day.
There are numerous ways consumers can cut their water usage including taking shorter showers, installing water meters opting to use low-flush toilets which are known to use less water. Leaks also need to be addressed, though water companies have managed to reduce leaks significantly in recent years.
In the report released by Bevan, he provides a more controversial solution too – creating more reservoirs. Adding new mega reservoirs will help to increase supply and two are currently being proposed, with one being considered in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. Additional pipelines and canals could also help to boost supply, particularly to water-stressed areas in the south-east.
Of course, focusing on reducing climate change will also help. With efforts made to reduce wastewater and climate change, it’s possible we could avert the water shortage crisis.
The importance for businesses to manage wastewater
It’s not just consumers which need to start being more mindful of their water usage. Businesses, particularly within the hospitality sector, also need to improve their wastewater management. Investing in high-quality wastewater management systems will help to decrease water usage, improving efficiency. They can also invest in efficient equipment to reduce water consumption.
Overall, the UK is heading towards a water crisis within the next 25 years. Unless we act now, the future of our water is greatly at risk.
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