Water shortage prediction ‘very worrying and very stark’

The East of England will be short of water by up to 1.6billion litres per day by the 2050s, a new report has warned.

A report submitted by Water Resource East shows that by the 2050s the additional water requirement for the East of England will be somewhere between 531 and 1,656 megalitres per day.

It means the region will have to find – if current water use practices are not changed – water enough to supply up to 6 million people.

The deficit has been described by Water Resource East’s managing director, Dr Robin Price, as “very worrying and very stark”.

On an average day the region uses 2,311 million litres of water a day.

Around 85 per cent is used for public water supply.

Most of the rest is used for spray irrigation, power generation and in the manufacturing and food and drink sectors.

Water Resources East – one of five regional planning groups operating as part of a National Framework for Water Resources – says Eastern England faces a number of significant risks to its future water supply, which could have a catastrophic impact on the area’s communities, economy and environment if left unchecked.

Dr Price said: “The problem is very worrying and very stark.

“Our modelling now shows that by the 2050s the additional water requirement for the East of England will be somewhere between 531 and 1,656 megalitres per day.

“That is the additional water that will be needed. Two things are terrifying about those numbers .

“The first is the size – 531 megalitres is enough to supply around two million customers. That is an enormous number and the other worrying thing is the gap between those numbers.

“Some of the work we are doing is understanding the future demand for water.

“Whatever, it is staggering and without action the region is going to run short of water by an enormous volume by the 2050s.

“All the headlines like the ‘Jaws of Death’ are true. There is big trouble brewing.”

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “A changing climate and a growing population is putting unprecedented pressures on our water resources.

“Without taking action, we would not have enough water to supply our needs in the future. The Environment Agency is working closely with water companies, the government and water users to protect the environment.

”In the East of England, we have some of the highest levels of personal consumption in the UK: on average, everyone uses 140 litres a day. The independent Waterwise is aiming towards 100 litres a day.

“We all need to make changes and use water more wisely – every single person has a part to play in this national effort.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter