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Is the UK vulnerable from water shortage?

10 December 2020

One of the major dangers imposed by global warming is the increased risk of drought and desertification. This is a result of water becoming trapped in the atmosphere and being therefore inaccessible on the earth’s surface. Until recently, you could be forgiven for assuming the UK was safe from a lack of rain. However, a report from Water UK earlier this year, made in response to concerns about supply shortage, says otherwise.

The UK has some of the oldest water infrastructure in the world and the National Infrastructure Commission estimates that securing our supplies requires an investment of over £20bn by 2050.

England and Wales alone use approximately 14 billion litres of water per day with
20% being wasted through defunct infrastructure.

“Achieving the desired water efficiency targets is going to require a
holistic review of infrastructure investment, building regulations,
and related practices.”

Vanessa Speight,
Professor of integrated water systems at Sheffield University

While pipe leakage has been on the radar for some time, with a 7% decrease in loss last year alone, there is still some way to go. The aim is that, by increasing efficiency, the UK can simultaneously reduce bills and increase investment in better infrastructure. A hoped 12% average drop in water utility bills by 2025 characterises
the immediate future of these improvements.

Initiatives like these vital as some areas of the UK, particularly in the south east, fear shortages by 2040 without immediate preventative action. There are currently people in some parts of the UK with less water access than individuals living in Morocco.

A joint responsibility

The question then becomes, what can individuals and organisations do to play their part?

Fostering a culture of conservation should be the top priority for management professionals. Incentivising positive behaviours is one way to achieve this, as well as nominating sustainability champions within an enterprise. A combination of both is best.

Hardware hugely impacts consumption, and the sooner improvements come into effect, the sooner they show returns. In other words: the time for low-flow devices that minimise water waste is now.

Ballooning focus on net zero targets mean that the white good and appliances markets are now awash with choice regarding eco-friendly options.

Smith Bellerby have consulted on water usage within a range of sectors and offer services designed to increase its efficiency. We analyse consumption data and identify key areas with potential for savings. Obtaining a clear understanding of your consumption patterns, we can ensure that you are paying as little possible and only ever for the water you have actually used. Full details of our service can be found here.

Josh Ellison
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