Water supply and demand management – National Audit Office ‘The government must take more concerted action now to prevent parts of southern England running out of water within 20 years, according to a National Audit Office (NAO) report published today.
The country’s total water supply is forecast to drop by 7% by 2045 because of climate change and the limits of sustainable abstraction. Almost all of the public water supply is obtained through abstraction from ground and surface water sources, but abstracting too much water can lead to physical changes that reduce biodiversity.
Even at current levels of average rainfall, a reduction of 480 million litres per day of water consumption is needed nationally within 25 years to restore abstraction to sustainable levels. Drier weather is forecast to further reduce water supplies by 600 million litres per day. Taken together therefore, water sourced through abstraction nationally each day is due to decline by over a billion litres over the next 25 years. This means that, without action, some parts of the country – particularly the South East – will run out of water.
Reducing demand is essential to prevent water shortages. Over the last five years, water companies have made little or no progress in reducing water consumption and cutting leakage. Water companies have signed up to reduce leakage by 15% or more by 2025 but there is a risk that they may not meet these targets and government should monitor progress to ensure that water companies have contingency plans.
Efforts to reduce water consumption with the public and businesses have not been successful. The government committed to announcing a personal water consumption target by the end of 2018, but has not yet done so. It has relied on water companies to get its message across about the importance of reducing water consumption, but there is no evidence this has had any impact on consumer behaviour and average consumption continues to rise. Government attempts to reduce non-household water consumption through increased competition have also not succeeded.’ Click here to download the report