ngland faces an “existential threat” as it looks set to run short of water within just 25 years, the head of the Environment Agency has warned.
A combination of climate change and population growth are pushing the country towards what Sir James Bevan referred to as the “jaws of death”.
At this point, unless urgent action is taken, there will not be enough water remaining to supply basic needs to the population.
Global warming is a major problem, bringing hotter and drier summers to the UK like the one experienced last year.
According to Sir James, water companies have identified this as the biggest threat to their industry.
There is also the issue of a rapidly increasing population, which is expected to rise from 67 million to 75 million by the middle of the century.
We can foresee this moment and there is still time to avoid it. But we need to change our attitudes to wasting water,” said Sir James.
The Environment Agency chief is set to deliver this message at a speech to the Waterwise conference in London.
Besides significant action by the government, water companies and regulators, Sir James is warning that the public must also play a role in tackling this growing threat.
“In the last few decades we’ve radically changed behaviour on smoking (everybody did it) and seatbelts (nobody wore them). In the last two years we’ve changed behaviour on plastic,” he will say.
“We need water wastage to be as socially unacceptable as blowing smoke in the face of a baby or throwing your plastic bags into the sea.
“We need everyone to take responsibility for their own water usage.”
The Environment Agency previously warned that water shortages may affect people by 2050, and the government has suggested efforts must be made to cut people’s water use.
However, an official report also found that enough water to meet the needs of 20 million people in an average day is lost through leakages in the system.
Preventing these leaks, as well as larger reservoirs and desalination plants, were all suggested by Sir James as methods to prevent the impending catastrophe.