Rivers and wildlife in England could be left without sufficient water due to climate change and demand from a growing population, the Environment Agency has warned.
England is at risk of serious water deficits following unsustainable levels of water abstraction, leakage from water companies and demand from industry and the public.
Calling for action to reduce water use and wastage, the new Environment Agency report revealed that leakage from water companies is currently estimated at three billion litres per day, while climate change and demand from a growing population are the biggest pressures on the availability of water.
Without action to increase supply, reduce demand and cut down on wastage, many areas in England could see significant supply deficits by 2050, according to a statement from the agency.
Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, commented: “We need to change our attitudes to water use. It is the most fundamental thing needed to ensure a healthy environment but we are taking too much of it and have to work together to manage this precious resource.”
She added that industry must innovate to reduce demand and cut down on wastage, highlighting that “we all have a duty to use water more wisely at home.”
The report shows that current levels of water abstraction are unsustainable in more than a quarter of groundwaters and one fifth of rivers, leading to reduced flows which could damage local ecology and wildlife.
Of the water taken from freshwater sources over half is abstracted by water companies for public water supply and more than a third is used for electricity supply and other industries.
Previously, unsustainable abstraction has prevented up to 15 per cent of rivers meeting good ecological status, according to the statement, which warned that summer river flows and groundwater levels may decrease further in the future.
The UK government has a 25-year plan that sets out a target to reduce individual water use by working with industry to set a personal consumption target. The Environment Agency will work with the government to set this target and cost-effective measures to meet it, concluded the statement.
Photo credit: Vera Izrailit/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0