Farming News - Industry and government tackle threat to future water supplies

Industry and government tackle threat to future water supplies

16 Mar 2020
Frontdesk / Finance

The Environment Agency has launched a long-term plan for meeting the challenges our water supplies are likely to face as a result of climate change and population growth.

The National Framework for Water Resources, launched today, brings together industry, regulators and government to transform the way we use and look after our water supplies. The framework will help reduce demand, halve leakage rates, develop new supplies, move water to where it’s needed and reduce the need for drought measures that can harm the environment.

The latest predictions estimate that if further action is not taken, between 2025 and 2050 we’ll need more than 3.4 billion additional litres of water per day to meet future demand for public water supply.

The framework looks to ease the pressure on our future water supplies by:

  • Reducing demand to an average of 110 litres per person per day by 2050
  • Improving water efficiency across all sectors
  • Working with water companies to halve leakage rates by 2050
  • Developing new supplies such as reservoirs, water re-use schemes and desalination plants
  • Making it easier to move water to where it’s needed through regional water transfers
  • Reducing the use of drought measures that can impact the environment

The framework introduces an ambitious aim for water companies to help consumers cut wastage and to use water more wisely in order to reduce our average water use from 143 to 110 litres per day.

Five regional groups across the country will work up plans tailored to the specific needs of their individual area, bringing together the 17 English water companies, industry regulators, government and other water users. The framework will guide these groups and deliver a national blueprint for future water resources planning from 2025 to 2050 and beyond.

The framework also sets out the challenges that water-intensive industries such as agriculture and power generation are likely to face across different parts of the country as a result of climate change, and how we can overcome them.

It also sets a greater level of ambition for restoring, protecting and improving the environment that is the source of all our supplies.

Rebecca Pow, Environment Minister, said: “I am pleased to see the Environment Agency challenging water companies to work more collaboratively to increase water efficiency.

“This framework is a significant step in the right direction, bringing together consumers, businesses and industry to reduce our water demand, and to put in place the infrastructure we need while preserving our water environment for decades to come.”

NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts said: “One of the UK’s biggest assets is our maritime climate which provides us with enough water to produce a healthy, enjoyable diet. But recently we have been seeing far too much water in some places and not enough in others, and sometimes both at the same time.

“With the country experiencing more frequent and extreme weather events due to climate change, it’s absolutely vital that we have a well thought through, practical and effective framework when it comes to managing this vital resource.

“I’m glad that the Environment Agency has taken on many of our recommendations within its new water framework, including plans to make it easier to move water to different parts of the country.

“The publication of this framework is an important step and we now need to see the government working with farmers and growers to drive forward climate and water friendly food production.”