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UK must ‘act now’ to prevent severe water shortage

by David Masters
March 31, 2009

All UK homes should have a water meter installed within the next twenty years if the country is to avoid a severe water crisis, the Environment Agency (EA) said this week.

The EA set a 2030 deadline for compulsory water meter installation in all homes, saying that climate change could reduce Britain’s water supplies by up to 80%.

The Water Resources Strategy document proposes a major rethink of how water is supplied in the UK.

It urges a major review of the way water companies are funded, so firms are rewarded for reducing, rather than increasing, the amount of water they supply.

Furthermore, it calls for the construction of desalination plants at sites around the UK.

“Near-universal water metering of households” and VAT removal on water efficient products are also proposed in the report.

In addition, the report points out that the CO2 produced by water and sewage treatment plants account for 6% of the UK’s emissions – more than the aviation industry – and that this needs to be dealt with.

Paul Leinster, EA chief executive, said: “Water is essential for life and vital to our economy.

“But climate change and population growth mean there may not be enough water in England and Wales in the future for people and the environment unless we start planning and acting now.

“People and businesses need to use less water and wasting water needs to cost a lot more.

“The proposals in our new strategy cover actions that need to be taken by water companies, government, regulators, businesses and the public, and we need a joined up approach to this problem to prevent it becoming a crisis.”

Chris Smith, EA chairman, added: “Fresh water is a fragile and vulnerable resource.

“Already there is less water available per person in England and Wales than in Egypt or Spain.

“If we fail to act now, we could face severe consequences such as water rationing, standpipes in our streets and the loss of wetlands and native wildlife.”

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