London’s precious water supplies must be managed better to cope with future droughts

Posted: Monday 3rd December 2012

A London Assembly report sets out a range of measures to help London manage its limited water supplies more effectively and avoid drought restrictions in the future.

Water Matters by the Assembly’s Health and Environment Committee warns the capital cannot rely solely on its own rainfall and makes a number of recommendations to reduce the amount of water used by each Londoner – currently around 167 litres per day – and cut leakage.

The London Assembly report says although this year’s restrictions came to an end after exceptionally heavy rain, uncertainties about future levels of rainfall, an increasing populationand the effects of climate change are placing more pressure on precious water supplies.

Despite improvements by water companies, around a quarter of London’s treated drinking water is lost through leakage. The report warns leakage rates are not likely to improve significantly in the next few years as all four of London’s water companies are already meeting or doing better than the Ofwat targetsset up to 2015.

The report calls for Ofwat to fully include long-term economic, social and environmental costsof supplying water when it reviews its methodology for calculating leakage targets and, together with the water companies, look at assessing the true value of water.

Murad Qureshi AM, Chair of the Health and Environment Committee, said:

“Water is a precious resource that is in limited supply and more must be done to preserve it if we’re to avoid a repeat of drought restrictions in future years.

“Our report sets out practical steps that can be taken in London to ease the pressure on our water supplies by reducing leakage and consumption in the home.”

The report says there is significant scope for improving water efficiency in homes – through aerators on taps and hosepipe fittings, for example. The Committee also calls on DECC to reconsider excluding cold water efficiency measures when the national Green Deal comes in – these measures have so far been included in the Mayor’s RE:NEW programme.

The Committee calls for water companies to step up the pace of installing water meters in all properties by 2025. Currently only around a quarter of London’s households have water meters. The report also recommends that Ofwat should work with water companies to implement social tariffs for water billing to support essential water usage by vulnerable people.

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