Growing Population To Create Severe Drought Problems In London?

Severe water droughts could be seen in London if the population continues to grow as it is, civil engineering experts from two of the capital’s top universities have now warned.


Speaking to the London Evening Standard, Imperial College London’s professor Adrian Butler (who is leading the Community Water Management for a Liveable London CAMELLIA project) said that the concern is a very real one and as time goes on, it will become increasingly challenging to deal with.


Figures from the Office for National Statistics predict that the city’s population will exceed ten million by the year 2035, with an estimated 50,000 houses to have been built by then. Back in 2011, when the last census was carried out, the population was 8.1 million.


“The worry has always been relying on rain in winter, when the water doesn’t evaporate as much as in summer. If you have a succession of dry winters, you are facing catastrophe in summer.


“When you look at the anticipated growth of London’s population, it’s huge. Demand will rise and the challenge then will be to use water more effectively,” Mr Butler said.


One of the solutions now being put into action is a community garden on the Kipling Estate in Southwark, where a tank will be installed to harvest rainwater. This is being led by University College London’s professor Sarah Bell, who explained that the water will be collected in a tank to water the garden, instead of it running off the roof and not being used… which will help reduce demand on drinking water.


“London could face severe drought. If we don’t want to get to that point, we need to prepare for it now. We need to make sure Londoners are ready. If it doesn’t rain in winter, as has been the case this week, it can put our water resources under pressure,” Ms Bell went on to say.


The CAMELLIA project focuses on London and brings together environmental, engineering, socio-economic, urban planning and organisational experts with members of the general public and institutional and industry stakeholders to come up with a systems approach to urban water management.


This will provide integrated solutions to enable required housing growth in the capital while managing water and environment in the city in a more sustainable way.


London is vulnerable to water shortages and floods. For example, in 2012 the city was facing its potentially worst drought ever but the prolonged period of rainfall that then took place during the summer saw localised flooding and the Thames Barrier being closed twice, highlighting the big challenge that the capital faces with regards to water environment management.


And this is likely to be exacerbated by climate change, the expected economic growth of the metropolis and an associated increase in population.

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