Mayor sets out plan to protect London's water supplies in a changing climate

Posted: Tuesday 13th October 2009

The average Londoner uses nearly 160 litres of water a day - saving just 10 per cent of this total, through easy measures, would fill an incredible 48 Olympic-sized swimming pools every day. With rising population, climate change and leaky Victorian pipes all putting pressure on our supply, the Mayor of London has today set out his plans to ensure our water resources for generations to come.

The Mayor’s draft water strategy outlines the many challenges that London faces: our population is expected to rise from 7.56m to 9.11 million by 2031, we face hotter summers due to climate change and our Victorian sewers overflow due to heavy rain, sending sewage gushing into the Thames up to 60 times each year.

We have enough water for London, but only if we use it wisely and effectively. As our population grows we face a choice of either becoming more water efficient and making the water we have go further, or having to commit to expensive solutions, such as a new reservoir, to meet our increasing demand, with additional costs on our bills. There are easy steps households can take to become more water efficient.

Over a quarter of our carbon emissions from our homes come from water use and so not only do we need to save the supplies we have, but being more water efficient will help cut our contribution to climate change in the future. The Mayor will be working with key partners such as the Environment Agency and Thames Water to address these challenges.

Proposals in the draft water strategy include:

The Mayor, Boris Johnson, said: 'It is easy to take our water, in the river Thames and in our taps for granted. It is a vital resource, which is under pressure from our expanding population and changing climate. Over a quarter of our climate change emissions from home actually come from the water we use and we can all do our bit to become more efficient in the way we use it.’

It is the Environment Agency's responsibility to decide how much water is taken from the environment for people and business use, without compromising the environment.

Clive Coley, the Environment Agency's Regional Strategy Manager for Thames, said: ‘We are very supportive of the proposals in the Mayor's draft water strategy.

‘Water is precious - essential for people and the environment, but we face not having enough if we do not make changes now. By 2050, climate change could reduce the amount of water available by up to 15 per cent so everyone needs to consume less and be more efficient with the water that is used.

‘We welcome the Mayor's proposals to increase water efficiency in both new and existing homes, and look forward to working closely with the GLA and other partners to ensure that there is a secure supply of water for Londoners now and in the future and that the environment remains protected.’

People expect to be able to turn on the tap and get water without having to think about where it comes from and to pull the plug and for it to drain away without worrying about what happens to it afterwards. The Mayor’s draft water strategy which is out for public consultation, considers both the water we want, for example drinking water and the water we don’t such as sewage and floodwater.

Key stats and facts:

We can all save 16 litres of water a day ( ten per cent of our water use):

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