England faces the serious risk of running out of water by 2040.
That’s the warning from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which accuses Defra, Ofwat and the Environment Agency of having “taken their eye off the ball” and stresses these organisations must ensure they take urgent action now to ensure a reliable water supply for the country in the years ahead.
It notes currently three billion litres is lost to leakage every day – this is roughly equivalent to a fifth of the total volume used, and according to the PAC is “wholly unacceptable”.
The Committee says industry action has failed and states “no progress” has been made in reducing leakage over the last 20 years as a result of “ponderous” action from water companies – it urges the government to get involved and make sure water companies better balance investment in infrastructure with reducing customer bills.
It also urges Defra to produce annual performance league tables for water companies and better promote the importance of water efficiency.
Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Committee, said: “It is very hard to imagine, in this country, turning the tap and not having enough clean, drinkable water come out – but that is exactly what we now face. Continued inaction by the water industry means we continue to lose one-fifth of our daily supply to leaks.
“Empty words on climate commitments and unfunded public information campaigns will get us where we’ve got the last 20 years: nowhere. Defra has failed to lead and water companies have failed to act: we look now to the Department to step up, make up for lost time and see we get action before it’s too late.”