Posted: Thursday 18th March 2010

The Environment Agency has set out plans to help secure future water supplies and a healthy water environment in England and Wales.

Water resources are already under pressure in many parts of England and Wales. In England, some 25 million people live in areas where there is less water available per person than Spain or Morocco. The average person in England and Wales currently uses 148 litres – 260 pints – every day.

Although climate change will lead to more heavy downpours and increase the risk of flooding, overall it could reduce the amount of water available in rivers in England and Wales by ten to 15 per cent by 2050, and could reduce natural flows in rivers by up to as much as 80 per cent during summer months.

This, along with a forecast 15 million increase in the population of England and Wales by 2051, will put even greater pressure on limited water supplies. By 2020, demand for water could rise by five per cent or 800 million litres every day – enough to fill every bath in Wales, the West Midlands and North East of England (4.6 million baths).

The Water Resources Strategy Action Plan sets the direction for how the Environment Agency and other groups will protect and improve water resources in the future. Measures the Environment Agency believes are necessary include a review of the structure of the water industry and actions to reduce water consumption to help lower the country’s carbon emissions.

The Environment Agency wants to work with industry to introduce an extended water efficiency labeling system for appliances. It will continue to promote near-universal water metering of households in England, prioritising the most water stressed areas first. The Environment Agency believes that metering should be considered in other parts of England and Wales as part of a longer term solution, taking account of vulnerable groups.

The Action Plan builds upon the organisation’s water resources strategy for England and Wales published last March. A separate action plan for Wales has been developed based on the Water Resources Strategy for Wales.

The Environment Agency’s Ian Barker, Head of Water said: “Water is essential for life and vital to our economy. But climate change and population growth mean that in the future there may not be enough water in England and Wales unless we start planning and acting now.

“People and businesses need to use less water. The actions in our new plan cover steps that need to be taken by water companies, government, regulators, business and the public. We need a joined up approach to managing water supplies to prevent a water crisis in the future.

“We look forward to working together with all our stakeholders to deliver the actions outlined in our plan. By working together we hope to make sure that there is enough water for people and the environment whatever the future might have in store.”

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