drought in england

South of England facing ‘severe water stress’ by 2030, analysis finds

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Seven regions in England will experience “severe water stress” by 2030, with five other regions experiencing the same by 2040, an analysis has shown.

According to home improvement company Kingfisher, which owns B&Q and Screwfix, the West Midlands, London, parts of the South West, the East Midlands, the East of England and the South East are all regions expected to be severely impacted, unless there are developments in water resilience in the near future.

Regions in the South of England are expected to be the worst affected. By comparison, the North West, the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber will be less vulnerable to severe water stress.

Despite government targets to reduce water usage in the home, consumption has risen by 2 per cent since 2017/18.

According to a survey of 3,000 UK adults, Brits were found to “significantly underestimate” how much water they use per day, estimating that they use just 57 litres, compared to the reality which is 144 litres.

To help close the looming gap between supply and demand, the government is targeting a reduction to 122 litres per person per day by 2038, falling to 110 litres by 2050.

The Environment Agency has warned that England risks running short of water by 2040 even though nowhere in England is currently considered to be water stressed. Water stress occurs when the demand for water exceeds the available local supply and is being exacerbated by the effects of climate change and population growth.

The Kingfisher survey also showed that over half of Brits (54 per cent) admit to leaving the tap on while brushing their teeth, rising to 70 per cent in London - one of the regions most likely to face future water stress. A running tap wastes approximately six litres per minute. Four in ten Brits (41 per cent) say that they run their dishwasher when it is not fully loaded, including six in ten Londoners (61 per cent).

Nevertheless, consumers are not the only ones at fault, with Thames Water recently being told to fix the 630 million litres of water it leaks a day before it starts taking water from the River Thames or from Wales to tackle drought problems.

Thierry Garnier, CEO of Kingfisher, said: “Across Europe, we are experiencing more extreme weather, leading to increasing water scarcity in many regions. As the impact of climate change becomes more apparent, measures such as hose pipe bans are set to become much more common, with increasingly strong measures needed to reduce demand. 

“We all have a role to play in conserving water. Making simple and affordable changes in our homes can have a huge impact, from installing water butts to collect rainwater for the garden to fitting tap aerators or low-flow shower heads.

“Governments can also help by encouraging the rollout of smart water meters and supporting the public to be more informed about water. By taking action now, we can put our water usage on a more sustainable path and safeguard this essential resource for the future.” 

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