UK's largest cities trailing rest of Europe for water efficiency, says new index

Posted: Tuesday 7th June 2016

Improving water metering and wastewater recycling would boost UK cities.

London, Birmingham and Manchester trail a number of major European cities when it comes to water efficiency, with improved levels of wastewater recycling and increased water metering needed to improve sustainability, says Arcadis.

The Sustainable Cities Water Index, developed by Arcadis with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), explores the three aspects that make up robust (resiliency), effective (efficiency) and healthy (quality) waterscapes to develop a ranking of 50 leading global cities.

The research finds that while UK cities perform relatively well overall - water quality is amongst highest in the index - work still needs to be done to better manage the water supply. None of the three locations feature in the top half of the efficiency ranking, with all three falling behind major international locations such as Berlin, Paris and Madrid. Ensuring a greater amount of wastewater is reused and encouraging more households to better manage their consumption through the use of water meters would make a significant difference to improving UK cities' efficiency.

Meanwhile, when it comes to water quality, British cities perform strongly. High levels of sanitation and relatively low water pollution see both Birmingham and Manchester outperform all other European cities with the exception of Paris and Brussels when it comes to the cleanliness of their water supplies.

Richard Bonner, Arcadis UK Cities Director, commented: "Making sure water is managed in the most efficient possible way will become increasingly important as our cities grow. Here in the UK, we have some ground to make up when it comes to ensuring our water systems are operating as efficiently as possible. Clearly this is not an easy thing to put right. Plenty of work is going on to correct these issues - our findings reflect key areas of focus for OFWAT in their priorities for Water 2020 - so it is fair to say that things are improving. However, as a nation, until we recycle as much water as physically possible wastage will continue to be a problem."

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