A new water report from Water UK, which was led by Atkins, has said there is a “significant and growing” risk of the UK being impacted by severe drought from climate change, population growth and environmental changes.
It is calling on the Government to take action now to help alleviate long-term problems, including adopting consistent national minimum levels of resilience.
The Water resources long-term planning framework report looks at the next 50 years of water provision across the country. It said that the investment needed to improve resilience is relatively modest compared to the cost of drought and to do so would be fair to future generations and also those areas of the country most likely to be affected.
The report has called for a “twin track” approach, with supply enhancement as well as demand management, and this could be part-managed by a national level “adaptive plan”.
“The UK water industry is faced with a difficult future to plan for and to maintain a resilient water supply system. Climate change and population growth combined with tighter than ever environmental standards, all add up to a major challenge. This report lays the challenge out in detail but also points to some tangible solutions,” said Atkins’ technical director for water resources and project team member Ben Piper.
Anglian Water regulation director and chair of the steering group for the project Jean Spencer added: “The threat of drought is already with us – were it not for the unprecedented rainfall in the spring of 2012, we might have suffered significant problems with water supply that summer. This is world class research that will support companies and government in planning for resilient water resources in the future.”
The study was funded by Water UK and was led by a steering group, which included water companies, regulators and UK and Welsh Government representatives. Atkins worked with a team, including representatives from Mott Macdonald, Nera Economic Consulting, HR Wallingford and the University of Oxford Environmental Change Institute.