Increasing water abstraction for pubic supply in England is driving up the UK figure despite falls in Scotland and Wales according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
UK abstraction fell 12% to 6.44m cubic metres between 2005 and 2014 when it began a continued rise to 6.7m cubic metres in 2017 the ONS reported in its latest statistical bulletin UK natural capital accounts: 2019. It attributed the decline in abstraction to 2014 to the call for more efficient and sustainable use of water, as well as the installation of water meters under the Water Act 2003.
The ONS cited Environment Agency reporting that described current levels of water abstraction as unsustainable in some regions. In 2017, abstraction from around 28% of groundwater bodies and up to 18% of surface waters exceeded sustainable levels according to the agency. And in 2016, unsustainable abstraction prevented “at least 6% and possibly up to 15% of river water bodies from meeting good ecological status or potential.”
The ONS accounts show that the annual value of water abstraction provisioning in 2017 decreased to £2.54bn after having more than doubled between 2015 and 2016 to £3.51bn.