Water metering must be introduced across the UK if the spectre of annual droughts is to be avoided, the ICE has warned.
The warning came as the south east officially joined the Anglia region as being in drought. Anglia has been in a state of drought since June (NCE 16 June 2011). At the same time, environment secretary Caroline Spelman hosted a major summit with water companies to find ways of reducing water wastage and use.
Spelman’s summit concluded that water users must take more responsibility for cutting water use. But the ICE said that this will only happen if demand management measures are imposed.
“If we are to avoid the spectre of drought becoming an annual event we must urgently change our approach to water management, taking a more strategic overview and focusing on preventative measures for addressing scarcity before it gets to drought stage, said ICE water panel chairman Michael Norton.
“Introducing demand management measures, improving interconnectivity between water companies and better and more imaginative methods of storing winter water would be a good start to safeguarding this precious resource for the future,” he said.
The ICE’s 2010 State of the Nation: Infrastructure report urged ministers to cut demand for drinking water by changing the pricing structure, reducing leaks and using low-flow fixtures, supported by water metering.
Spelman stopped short of recommending such an approach. “It is not just the responsibility of government, water companies and businesses to act against drought,”Spelman said after the summit. “We are asking for the help of everyone by urging them to use less water and to start now.”
At the summit water companies agreed to try and to reduce water losses, increase leak detection and encourage customers to use water “wisely”.