Fresh thinking for managing water demand across England and Wales

Posted: Monday 11th June 2018

With climate change and a growing population likely to place ever greater strains on our vital water resources, Ofwat is exploring the kind of things that could help to cut demand for water over the next 50 years - from fixing leaky loos to investing in major new innovations.

A report released recently explores what demand for water might be in 2065. The report shows that on average, we currently use about 140 litres of water per person per day in England and Wales, up from 85 litres per person in the 1960s.

The report's findings also reveal that tackling household leaks and using innovative technologies could help to decrease water usage by two thirds - or over one bath per person per day - over the next 50 years.

Climate change is going to have a significant impact on the water sector, though due to its inherently unpredictable nature, we do not know to what extent. There are projections that suggest the UK population could grow by upwards of 10 million people over the next 20 to 30 years.

The main way in which water companies have met rising demand in the past has been through measures including taking more water from the environment and building infrastructure to store it. But this isn't without its environmental and structural problems, so new solutions are needed.

John Russell, Ofwat's Senior Director of Strategy and Planning, said: "With a fifty-year time horizon, we can afford to look beyond the current constraints, to think about the deep reductions that consumers could make, if we all work together. As well as being an important resource for our future price reviews - and to an extent the one that's gearing up now - we hope that this study provokes discussion in the sector."

Nicci Russell, Managing Director of Waterwise, said: "We share Ofwat's appetite for more ambitious water efficiency - for customers, the environment, society and the economy. Why not cut water use by half in the next 50 years? That time period brings a wealth of opportunities. We all have a role to play, and strong relationships with customers will be really important, alongside innovation. We should get the basics right too - we shouldn't be fitting or selling products that leak or waste water! We look forward to working with government and the sector to set an ambitious target for England and Wales."

Rob Lawson, Artesia's Project Director, said: "We are delighted to have produced this report on behalf of Ofwat. Our research shows what reductions in consumption are possible and we hope it will move the debate forward in the sector. We look forward to working with a range of stakeholders on this topic in the future."

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April 2021

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