Friday 21st October 2016                 Change text size:

Action needed to stop UK’s rivers drying up

Photo: LHOON

Rivers are running the risk of drying out because of the effects of climate change and an increase in population. Charlotte Reid looks into how the Environment Agency has warned that in some cases, river levels could drop below 80% in the summer.

Unless emergency measures are adopted Britain’s rivers will continue to dry up, the Environment Agency has warned.

The agency says that the problems are caused by climate change, which brings warmer weather conditions and dries up the rivers. Another reason for rivers drying up has been put down to an increase in population, which creates more demand for water.

Trevor Bishop, head of water resources at the Environment Agency, said to the BBC, “We need to plan carefully to secure sustainable water supplies for people, business and the environment.

“The current system of allowing water to be taken from rivers by farmers, businesses and water companies has been in place since the 1960s, and will not be able to ensure secure supplies of water to people and businesses in the future.

“Reform of abstraction management is critical if people and businesses using water are to adapt to the impacts of climate change and economic growth is to continue.”

Work is already underway to prevent a drought from happening in the summer. Even though there was some wet weather over the winter holidays, a risk of drought still remains high. This means, pending significant rainfall, water restrictions such as hosepipe bans could be introduced.

Every little bit helps – hosepipe bans can typically save 5-10% of water on a daily basis – there are important improvements that need to be made by water companies too. The water industry leaks 3.4 billion litres a day. This infographic created for Blue & Green Tomorrow shows how much the water pipes have been leaking across the country.

Water leaks are not entirely preventable – pipes do wear out and do not fare well in freezing conditions.

However, in 2011 the water regulating company Ofwat reported that six water companies failed their leakage targets.

You can help make our water system more efficient by looking at water companies that have been given a clean bill of health from Ofwat. Blue & Green Tomorrow suggests Wessex Water and water-only companies (Bristol, Cambridge, Dee Valley, Portsmouth, Sembcorp Bournemouth, South East and South Staffs) all get a clean bill of water health from Ofwat.

Photo: LHOON

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