The UK isn’t necessarily as wet as you’d think, and climate change is making some areas a lot drier. For example, there are big differences in rainfall depending on the area - weather patterns mean the west of the UK gets far more rainfall than the east. The highest peaks can get 5,200mm of rain annually, whereas the London and the Thames estuary area gets around 600mm. It may surprise you to learn that London has only around half the average rainfall of Sydney, Australia.
The UK is also suffering because of the uneven nature of the rainfall. In March 2019, there was flooding caused by rainfall that was 140% of the monthly average, but by the summer some rivers dried up because of the lack of water. And this pattern of wetter winters and drier summers is likely to continue, with the winter flooding overwhelming the system making it difficult to divert to storage.
There is also a disparity in water usage at different times of the year. In the summer, when the weather is at its hottest and the supply at its lowest, demand for water increases - in agricultural terms, we need more water to irrigate crops; in domestic terms, we drink more water, shower more, fill up paddling pools and use more water to keep our gardens alive. Our Additional Water Services help ensure that UK businesses have emergency water when they need it, especially water intensive and sensitive customers.
It is therefore clear that, even in the UK, we are heading for severe water shortages sooner or later, and that we need to do everything we can now to prevent them. If we wait until we need to cure the problem, it will be too late.
In the South East, five regional groups have come together to form Water Resources South East (WRSE) to work together to future-proof the region’s water supply. WRSE models different scenarios to help plan the implementation of a resilient and adaptable infrastructure that takes current and future environment, population and climate needs into account. Businesses can also prepare for water shortages by setting up their own emergency water and contingency plans. If you’d like to speak to someone about getting a water contingency plan in place, please click here.
Without action, parts of the UK could suffer significant water shortages by 2050. It’s estimated that, by then, we could be using an additional 3.4 billion litres of water in England than today… every day. That is why, this April, the Environment Agency changed its abstraction charges to support behavioural changes that will lead to a more economical use of water. The additional revenues from the charges will be used to protect sensitive habitats, such as chalk streams.
UK businesses that abstract more than 20 cubic metres of water per day must apply for a water abstraction licence from the Environment Agency. More information on your business water abstraction rights can be found here.
Reservoirs are an obvious solution to the problem of how to collect water in the wet months for use in the hotter, drier times. However, building a new reservoir is a huge undertaking and is often met with local objections. In fact, the last major reservoir in the UK was built 30 years ago. However, if we are to prevent the predicted situation where demand for water will be greater than supply by 2050, building major new reservoirs is a necessity, and plans are being drawn up. Indeed, work has already begun on building a new reservoir in Hampshire that is scheduled to be ready by the end of the decade.
There are a number of initiatives that are literally producing water out of thin air. Many of us don’t realise this, but the atmosphere holds 3% of the world’s fresh water, and innovative ways of harvesting it are helping to supply clean water for people and crops without having to extract it from rivers and risking a detrimental effect on the environment and wildlife. The technology is designed principally for remote, arid areas of the world, but there’s no reason why we can’t also use it here in the UK.
It stands to reason that if businesses use less water, it will be beneficial for the environment. This is why we are so keen to encourage our customers to implement water efficiency measures now, to help protect our future water supply. It has the added bonus of saving money too!
Whether you are preparing your business for water shortages or are simply looking to switch business water supplier, Castle Water can help your business. Our Additional Water Services ensure your business maximises water efficiency, is prepared with emergency water and contingency plans, identify leaks and meet effluent requirements; all whilst keeping your costs down.
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