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20 Apr 2021

Water - What's the problem

Water – What’s the problem?

Water is a crucial resource, and it is running out. A safe, secure water supply is fundamental to the well-being and growth of communities, economies, and ecosystems. Pressures from climate change, global development, and population growth are increasing the struggle to keep up with water demand and we are facing a grim future if we do not act now to find alternative sustainable resources and to preserve what we have left.

Sir James Bevan’s now-famous “jaws of death” speech at the 2019 Waterwise Conference warned people of the “existential threat” we now face as a result of climate change reducing water supply and increased demand from population growth. By 2050 it is predicted that there will no longer be enough water to supply demand.

Climate change continues to reduce the amount of water that can be sustainably abstracted from the environment as well as increasing the number of flood and drought events each year.

Mains water consumption in England currently stands at 143 litres per person, per day (L pppd) and this number has increased each year since 2014/15. We need to reduce this consumption to below 90Lpppd by 2050 if we are to live in a future where everyone has enough water to live and work.

Research has found that people who have a water meter installed in their homes tended to use less water (133L pppd) compared to those who did not (166L pppd). Figures show that 24% of domestic water is used on toilet flushing alone, at around 34L pppd, so implementing water reuse for this element alone could help to achieve the desired reduction in use from 143L per day to 110L. When combined with a washing machine and garden use, the PCC could reduce to around 90L per day. In commercial settings, which account for over 20% of the UK’s water use, reductions can be more significant with larger roof areas and storage capacities yielding substantial savings.

We need to rethink our approach to the ‘unlimited’ water resource the population believes we have and act now! There are many solutions like rainwater harvesting which can help to reduce mains water consumption and help build our future where everyone has access to the critical resource. Tomorrow, we will be continuing to discuss “the problem” and investigating the hidden carbon impact of your daily water use.

Links:

Ricardo_Independent-review-of-costs-and-benefits-of-RWH-and-GWR-Final-Report.pdf

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/escaping-the-jaws-of-death-ensuring-enough-water-in-2050

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