Water UK Calls for Action to Improve Drought Resilience

The latest report by Water UK has found that there is a significant and growing risk of severe drought impacts arising from population growth and climate change.

The group believes that concerted action is now required to build resilience of supply as the first of its kind research modelled the possible effects of climate change, population growth, environmental protection measures and trends in water use to produce a wide range of future scenarios. It deployed new modelling techniques to look 50 years ahead across the whole of England and Wales.

The results suggest that, in some situations, we are facing more frequent, and longer lasting acute droughts than previously thought.

The South and East of England are the driest areas of the country and face a greater risk of more severe droughts than those previously experienced, while North and West regions of England also face greater exposure to the prospect of future water shortages.

The modelling indicated that extensive measures to manage demand are required, along with enhanced supplies of water, to reduce the risk of droughts.

Demand management schemes, such as promoting more efficient water use in homes and businesses, or improving building standards and widespread use of metering, must be used along with ambitious supply plans.

These include moving more water from one region to another through existing waterways and new pipelines, building new reservoirs, treating more water for re-use and building desalination plants to make use of sea water.

The author of the report concludes that, by adopting a step by step approach, the added cost of making the water supply more resilient to severe droughts would be equal to around £4 per year per household.

By contrast, the impact on the economy of inaction could be very high, costing an estimated £1.3 billion per day during the most widespread situations of severe drought modelled in the report.


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BDC 301 February 2023