Seven areas of England are in danger of running out of water by 2030, new analysis shows.
Using data from water companies and the Environment Agency, home improvement company Kingfisher’s research suggests demand for water could exceed the available supply in almost the whole of the south of England and the midlands by 2040.
A total of 12 out of 17 English regions could face severe water stress in the coming two decades unless action is taken. It means hose pipe bans are likely to become more common as part of measures to reduce water demand.
England has had persistent water issues with parts of the country in a state of drought throughout the winter and since last summer.
East Anglia and Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are all in official drought status - with most of the rest of the country “recovering” from recent prolonged dry weather.
The National Drought Group has warned that England remains one hot, dry spell from severe drought conditions returning once again this year.
The warming climate is expected to bring longer and hotter spells during the summer which will put extra pressure on UK water resources.
Kingfisher, which partnered with economics consultants Cebr for its analysis, said water use has risen by three litres per person per day in the last five years.
Households use an average of 144 litres per day and the government has set itself the target of reducing this to 122 litres by 2038 and 110 litres by 2050.
In its Plan for Water, the government said installing water butts, using water more sensibly and more efficiently as well as fixing leaks quickly, turning off the tap while brushing teeth and installing smart metres will help reduce demand.
It also wants water companies to reduce leakage in their pipelines as some 20% of the public water supply is lost this way.
Which regions are under threat?
Listed are the English regions expected to be severely hit unless improvements are made:
- West Midlands
- Parts of the South West
- East Midlands
- East of England
- South East
The research claimed the North West, North East, and Yorkshire & Humber are all expected to be less vulnerable to water scarcity by 2040.
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.”
A separate survey of 3,000 UK adults, commissioned by Kingfisher, found people tend to underestimate their water use.
Some 66% said they probably use less than 140 litres a day while 29% felt unable to guess, while on average people thought they used just 57 litres of water per day,
More than half of respondents said they leave the tap on while brushing their teeth, a figure that rose to 70% among Londoners – one of the regions most likely to face future water stress.
Almost 80% of respondents said reducing the amount of water they use is important to them, with three in four believing saving water is more important now than a decade ago.
Mr Garnier said: “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 metres and supporting the public to be more informed about water.”
He added: “By taking action now, we can put our water usage on a more sustainable path and safeguard this essential resource for the future.”