Climate change, population growth and land use are exerting stress on England’s water supply and could result in shortages by 2050, the country’s Environment Agency has warned.
According to a recent report by the agency, England’s altered climate has led to increased rainfall during winter and decreased rainfall in summer. The trend spans almost 200 hundreds of gradually exacerbated global warming, causing a loss of around three billion litres of water per day.
The agency suggests that in the next 20 to 30 years, England could be subject to periods of drought and flood, as well as risk of natural disasters such as forest fires.
Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the Environment Agency, said that the amount of water needed to refill supplies is threatened by quantities either used or wasted through personal negligence or unresolved leakages in homes.
“We can all do more. The average person in England uses 140 litres per day, a significant amount is wasted,” she said.
The report recommends that water companies “pursue more ambitious water resource management plans that are resilient to future stresses” and that these firms “develop new resources, support environmental objectives and incorporate better ways to manage and share resources”.
Boyd said the agency will review plans to tackle these issues with England’s Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat), the state advisor on environmental concerns Natural England, and Natural Resources Wales.
Other key findings from the report include the impact of unsustainable abstraction (the removal of groundwater), which in 2016 prevented as much as 15 percent of river water bodies from meeting “good ecological status or potential”. This percentage rose to 28 percent in 2017.
Almost 9.5 billion litres of freshwater, enough to submerge Greater London beneath 6 metres, were abstracted in the country in 2016. The report added that while the findings show “no clear trend in droughts”, summer river flows and groundwater levels “may decrease in the future”.