You may think we are immune to needing to conserve water here in the rainy UK. It may, therefore, come as a surprise that recent statistics show that the UK has less available water per person than most countries in Europe; particularly in the South East of England. Due to an ever increasing population and climate change leading to more extreme weather events, which could see more droughts in the future, we have been left with increasing pressure on our water supply.
This is why a national campaign has been initiated – between the 22nd and 28th March 2015 – to raise awareness of the importance of conserving water. It is argued that unless we are more careful, and are willing to make some simple lifestyle changes, we could be faced with groundwater depletion, low river flows and disappearing wetlands. Small changes such as shorter showers, ensuring taps are off when not in use, only using washing machines and dishwashers when they are fully loaded, reducing sprinkler use in gardens, and drinking tap water instead of bottled water can make such a difference to individual water use which will not only help the environment but save money too.
There are some areas in the UK that are at higher risk of water shortages. Areas with greater demand for water, such as South East England, also happen to be the areas with less rainfall and a heavier reliance on groundwater for water supply. Short term simple measures, such as increasing public awareness, are important and beneficial. However, more work is being done to investigate long term solutions including water recycling, water metering and desalination plants such as the Thames Water Desalination Plant. Consideration is also being given to more water transfer solutions i.e. a national water grid that re-directs water from places with sufficient water supply to places prone to water shortages. Smaller scale examples of this are already a success in Manchester and Liverpool, which are fed by water supplies from North Wales and the Lake District. It is imperative that long term solutions are explored in order to be prepared for the likely water shortages expected in our future.
This week may be about raising awareness and making small changes that will help with conserving water short term, but it is vital that the UK considers more long term changes in order to prepare for future pressures on water supplies, even after National Water Saving Week is over.