Water scarcity: UK at risk of drought by 2050s

By William Girling
A new report by the National Audit Office postulate...

A new report by the National Audit Office postulates that the UK’s demand for water will soon exceed the available supply by 2050.

Estimating that the daily water demand was 14bn litres in 2018, the Committee on Climate Change has concluded that an exponential increase will see supplies running between 1.1bn to 3.1bn litres short in 30 years time. 

Perhaps more surprisingly, the report also highlights the inefficiency of the current water supply system: 20% of it is lost transiting in leaking or otherwise faulty pipes (equivalent to 3bn litres per day). 

Conserving a vital utility

“Water shortages are an impending risk for the UK. Parts of the country face a significant risk from drought, while neighbouring regions have surplus water,” said the report.

“The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has overall responsibility for setting the policy and regulatory framework for water in England. It expects water companies to provide resilient water supplies supported by robust water resource management plans.”


With the average citizen consuming 143 litres of water per day, it comes as no surprise that the utility is of vital importance and solutions must be found to the problem.

The creation of Ofwat, an economic regulator of water in England and Wales, and a £469mn fund to redress the balance and develop a long-term strategy has already established some positive goals: a 16% reduction in leaks over the next five years and water bills 12% lower.

Making a difference

Thames Water (TW), the UK’s biggest water utility company, has already taken notice of this key sustainability issue: its be water smart campaign highlights how TW is endeavouring for conserving water and gives advice on how its customers can do the same.

From installing more water-efficient showers, using water calculators which can reduce usage and save money, and taking the time to upgrade household plumbing are just some of the recommendations posited by TW.

For its part, the company will not be idle in scrutinising itself for optimisation. “To protect our limited water supply for the future, we're investing £1 million every day to prevent leaks,” states the TW website.

“Our population is increasing by 100,000 a year. We don't get enough rain to fill our reservoirs and the average person uses more water than they think. Together, we can make sure we have enough water in our region, now and in the future.”


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