Environment Agency calls for multi-party action on water resources

The Environment Agency last week called for action on leakage, abstraction and customer water consumption as it published a report on water resources in England – The state of the environment: water resources. The report found that without action to increase supply, reduce demand and cut down on wastage, many areas in England could see significant supply deficits by 2050 – particularly in the south east.

The agency is looking to water companies to invest more in infrastructure to address leakage – currently estimated at 3 billion litres a day – instead of relying on abstraction and the natural environment to make up this shortfall”. It will be reviewing company Water Resource Management Plans to ensure they are ambitious enough. It is also calling for:

  • a personal consumption target, to get individual use down from the current 140 litres per person per day average. It will work with government to set this target and cost-effective measures to meet it;

  • industry, which uses more than a third of freshwater abstracted, to look at cost-effective ways to use water more efficiently, and to invest in resilience to climate change;

  • more sustainable abstraction practices. It noted current levels of water abstraction are unsustainable in more than a quarter of groundwaters and one fifth of rivers, leading to reduced flows which could damage local ecology and wildlife. It is piloting DEFRA’s abstraction reforms now; and

  • streamlined planning for nationally significant infrastructure. It is supporting the development of the national policy statement for water to this end.