WRSE Publishes Plan To Avoid Water Shortages In England
Water Resources South East (WRSE), a coalition of the six water companies serving the south-east of England, has published a draft plan to help maintain the water supplies in the region, which it says will face water shortages in the coming decades unless billions are invested in infrastructure.
The emerging regional plan details what could be necessary in order to avoid a potential shortfall in water supplies of one billion litres a day within the next 15 years.
This is approximately one-fifth of the total amount of water currently being provided on a daily basis by the six companies operating across the region – and it could climb to 2.6 billion litres a day by 2060.
A consultation launched on January 17th reveals that by 2040, the combination of population growth in the region, climate change, the need to provide greater levels of protection to the water environment and the need to increase the resilience of water supplies to drought could require long-term investment of approximately £8 billion to avoid shortfalls in supplies. This could climb to £17 billion by 2060.
Independent chair of the WRSE Chris Murray said: “The south-east faces the most severe pressure on its water supplies of any region of the country. It is warmer, more densely populated and is the home of more of the iconic chalk streams that we are seeking to preserve than any other part of the country.
“The climate emergency is and will continue to have a profound impact on our water environment, so this plan aims to mitigate that through a long-term programme of investment that prepares us for the years ahead by changing how we use water and where we source it from.”
Chalk streams and groundwater are sensitive water sources that are potentially vulnerable to climate change, so identifying alternative sources and making sustained reductions in water usage and consumption is necessary in order to replace them.
Between 2025 and 2040, this will include the development of three new reservoirs, schemes to enhance wastewater treatment so it can be returned to the environment and then abstracted and used again, and nature-based schemes in collaboration with environmental groups to improve the regions streams and rivers that provide water supplies.
Some 19 million people call the south-east of England home and the region also has almost as many businesses as the rest of the country altogether – making up 37 per cent of the national economy. On top of this, the south-east also welcomes 28 million tourists each year, with total demand reaching up to six billion litres of drinking water a day.
Over the long term, four million more people are expected to be living in the south-east, which is expected to make up about 40 per cent of the UK’s need for public water supplies alone. This means that over the next 30 years, the region will have to find at least an extra one billion litre of water a day – and possibly even more.
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