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England to Face Water Scarcity in 25 Years

England to Face Water Scarcity in 25 Years

Thursday, 21 March, 2019 - 06:00
A man fills bottles and a bucket with water in Tripoli, Libya (Reuters)
London - Asharq Al-Awsat
Chief executive of the Environment Agency has warned that England is set to run short of water within 25 years, The Guardian reported this week.

The country is facing the "jaws of death" at the point where water demand from the rising population surpasses the falling supply resulting from climate change, Sir James Bevan said.

However, this could be avoided with ambitious action to cut people’s water use by a third and leakage from water company pipes by 50 percent, along with big new reservoirs, more desalination plants and transfers of water across the country.

"Around 25 years from now, where those demand and supply lines cross is known by some as the "jaws of death" – the point at which we will not have enough water to supply our needs, unless we take action to change things," Bevan told The Guardian, before a speech on Tuesday at the Waterwise conference in London.

"We need water wastage to be as socially unacceptable as blowing smoke in the face of a baby or throwing your plastic bags into the sea," he added.

During the conference, Bevan said: "Water companies all identify the same thing as their biggest operating risk: climate change. By 2040, more than half of our summers are expected to be hotter than the 2003 heat wave, leading to more water shortages and potentially 50-80 percent less water in some rivers in the summer."

The population of the UK is expected to rise from 67 million to 75 million in 2050, increasing the demand for water. But Bevan says the average person’s daily water use of 140 liters could be cut to 100 liters in 20 years by more efficient use in homes and gardens. Currently, about a third of water is lost to leaks or wastage.

The government has not built a new reservoir in the UK for decades, largely because clearing all the planning and legal hurdles necessary is so difficult and local opposition so fierce, Bevan noted.

More than two billion people on earth did not have access to clean and drinkable water, the UN said.

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