England will run out of water within 20 years
Foreigners think it always rains in the UK and they know it’s a group of islands surrounded by water, so this news may come as a surprise.
Foreigners think it always rains in the UK and they know it’s a group of islands surrounded by water, so this may news come as a surprise.
It’s the headline used by the media for a report by the Public Accounts Committee and the first line of the report summary is: ‘There is a serious risk that some parts of the country will run out of water within the next 20 years’. The second sentence notes that the COVID-19 lockdown means some areas of facing shortages today.
The report strongly criticises water companies and describes them as ‘ponderous’, saying they haven’t made any progress in reducing leaks for 20 years.
But they’re not the only ones in the firing line. The relevant Government department DEFRA (the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) and the regulators Ofwat and the Environment Agency are also criticised. The suggestion is that because all these parties are responsible, none of them is, and consequently none has got a thorough grip on dealing with the issue and driving the necessary change.
The recommendations of the committee contained in the report are:
- Guidance from DEFRA to water companies on the level of investment required to ensure resilience by 2050
- League table of leakage showing performance against targets
- A public information campaign to increase public awareness of the need to save water, and league tables of water companies’ performance in terms of customer consumption
- Ofwat to explain how carbon emissions are accounted for
- Water efficiency labelling for appliances
- The Environment Agency to explain how to eliminate environmental damage from over-abstraction and sewage outflow
The committee is right. And every country should take note of these recommendations. Do these things and reduce the likelihood of a water crisis in the future.
As things stand, a crisis is a racing certainty.