England could be faced with “jaws of death” situation where there won’t be enough clean water in just 25 years, experts have warned.
The country is facing a massive water crisis, according to the Environment Agency , with fears that supplies could run out.
The agency’s chief executive Sir James Bevan says that as clean water supplies continue to dwindle at a rapid rate, action is needed by the public.
At the Waterwise conference in London yesterday, he urged Britons to cut water usage, insisting that wasting water must now become “as socially unacceptable as blowing smoke in the face of a baby or throwing your plastic bags into the sea.”
He also demanded water companies urgently fix leaks, build new desalination plants and reservoirs in order to combat England’s growing water crisis.
“Water companies all identify the same thing as their biggest operating risk: climate change ,” Sir James added.
By 2050, the UK’s population is expected to rise from 67 million to 75 million, drastically increasing the demand for water.
Clean water supplies are expected to be reduced because of the effects of climate change with hotter and drier summer months, less rainfall and higher risk of droughts.
Wildlife habitats that rely on bodies of water will also be affected, including species such as trout, otters and kingfishers, that are already under threat from increasing demands for drinking water.
“Unless we all act to reduce water use and wastage, in a few decades’ time there will not be enough clean water,” Sir James continued.
“Demand for water will rise as the population grows, whilst water supply is likely to reduce as the effects of climate change kick in.
“Around 25 years from now, where those two lines cross is known by some as the jaws of death – the point at which we will not have enough water to supply our needs, unless we take action to change things.
“We can foresee this moment and there is still time to avoid it. But we need to change our attitudes to wasting water so it becomes as socially unacceptable as throwing your plastic bags into the sea.
“We need to use less water and use it more efficiently.”
The average person must cut their water intake from 140 litres a day to 100 litres in order to reverse the threat of water shortage, explaining how more than a third is lost through waste and leakage.
He also said more desalination plants must be installed, such as Thames Water’s Beckton plant, turning saltwater into drinkable fresh water without taking away from the environment.
Building reservoirs is a necessary step to increase water supplies, but they are controversial “because clearing all the planning and legal hurdles necessary is so difficult and local opposition so fierce”, Sir James added.
Water Services Regulation Authority, Ofwat, requires water companies to cut leakage by 15% by 2020.
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