England At ‘Serious Risk Of Water Scarcity’ In 20 Yrs
The lack of progress on water leaks and repairs around England has been criticised by the public accounts committee, warning that there is a very real risk that parts of the country will run out of water within 20 years.
The report goes on to state that the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, the Environment Agency and Ofwat have all “taken their eye off the ball”, calling for urgent action to be taken now in order to ensure that the country continues to enjoy a reliable water supply now and in the future, the Guardian reports.
It described the scale of leakage (which is currently over three billion litres a day) as “wholly unacceptable”, an issue that has now become “hugely pressing”. Water companies were urged four years ago to prioritise leaks and repairs, but little progress has been made.
The report went on to note that the government hasn’t displayed any real leadership with regards to issues threatening the water supply, urging the government to give water companies more guidance on the level of necessary investment to ensure resilience of supplies by 2050 and how this should be balanced in business plans with pressure to reduce bills.
Other issues threatening water resilience in England include the release of sewage into rivers via storm drains – with over 200,000 incidents seen last year, as a result of breaching permit conditions and major infrastructure programmes.
Chair of the committee Meg Hillier said: “Continued inaction by the water industry means we continue to lose one fifth of our daily supply to leaks.
“Empty words on climate commitments and unfunded public information campaigns will get us where we’ve got the last 20 years: nowhere. Defra has failed to lead and water companies have failed to act: we look now to the department to step up, make up for lost time and see we get action before it’s too late.”
A recent study, published in the Earth’s Future journal, found that the number of people facing water stress around the world could double by 2050 if global warming isn’t kept below 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels and if future population growth is too high.
An additional 380 million people could be affected by water stress by the middle of the century compared to the number in 2010. Increases in water stress are expected to be concentrated in the Middle East, North Africa and south and central Asia, places that are already dealing with challenges presented by significant water stress.
Given that the next big shared global crisis is predicted to be water stress and scarcity, taking action now is a must if this resource is to be protected for future generations.
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