press release
Published: 07 June 2023

Commentary: England's looming water supply shortfall

The following is an expert comment written by Dr Pablo Pereira-Doel regarding England's looming water supply shortfall.

Pablo Pereira-Doel
Dr Pablo Pereira-Doel

“As we mark World Water Day on Friday 22 March, we must highlight the challenges and potential solutions within the context of England's looming water supply shortfall. The stark projection of a 4-billion-litre daily deficit by 2050, primarily attributed to population growth and the intensification of climate-induced droughts and floods, emphasises the critical need for immediate action.

“The recently enacted Environment Act 2021 serves as a beacon for change, mandating substantial reductions in water usage across households and businesses. From the current 144 litres per person per day to a targeted 110 litres, and a 15% reduction for businesses, these measures aim to mitigate the impending crisis. As we navigate these policy changes, it is crucial to focus on specific areas where water efficiency gains can be maximised.

“At the University of Surrey, our recent research delved into the intricacies of water consumption in showers, a significant contributor to both water usage and associated environmental impacts. Monitoring 290 showers over 39 weeks, we observed 86,421 showering events, revealing an intriguing correlation between water pressure and consumption.

“The key findings indicate that increased water pressure can significantly reduce water usage, with potential reductions of up to 60%. Importantly, our research unveils the potential of smart shower timers as effective tools in promoting user awareness and further curbing water consumption. The association between higher pressure settings and lower overall water consumption challenges conventional assumptions and suggests that people adjust their showering habits based on experience rather than fixed durations.

“As we stand on the precipice of a water crisis, these policy recommendations and research findings provide a roadmap for proactive measures. By incorporating higher water pressure settings and shower timers into water conservation strategies, we have the opportunity not only to meet mandated targets but also to exceed them, ensuring a resilient and sustainable water future for England and beyond. On World Water Day, let us commit to transformative actions that safeguard our most precious resource for generations to come.”

Related sustainable development goals

Image for Responsible Consumption and Production Sustainable Development Goal

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