Water, water everywhere, nor a drop to drink

July 19, 2007
Long term plans to tackle issues such as controlling water demand and planning water and wastewater infrastructure will be as important as measures to protect our homes from flooding as we look to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change, according to the Environment Agency. The message comes as the Environment Agency sets out its proposals for managing water resources for the next 25 years...

July 18, 2007 -- Long term plans to tackle issues such as controlling water demand and planning water and wastewater infrastructure will be as important as measures to protect our homes from flooding as we look to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change, according to the Environment Agency.

The message comes as the Environment Agency sets out its proposals for managing water resources for the next 25 years.

"Last June we were in the grip of the worst drought for 100 years, but this year we have seen the devastating effects of flooding. We cannot ignore either of these major issues. As the effects of climate change become clearer it is likely that we are likely to see more unsettled weather and an increase in more extreme rainfall patterns," said David King, Director of Water Management at the Environment Agency.

"Without the right planning there will be an increased risk of water shortages -- the environment will suffer and so will we. What is needed now is real practical work on the ground to ensure we are keeping pace with climate change, so that as we receive more varied rainfall we are controlling the demand for water. The Environment Agency is at the very heart of this work.

"Our existing water resources strategy was produced in 2001. Since then there have been changes to the legislation and government policy in England is now more favorable towards water metering. That's why we now need to update it."

The Environment Agency's draft principles for managing water resources include:

• Protecting and improving the environment -- We want to protect and preserve our environment for future generations by making sure that water abstraction does not contribute to environmental decline.
• Wiser, more sustainable use of water -- if demand for water is carefully managed, new homes are designed to use water efficiently and there is an increase in metering, we should be able to stabilize the amount of water we use within 10 years.
• Supporting sustainable development -- reliable access to water underpins the prosperity of our economy. We need to make sure that water continues to be available to support sustainable development, business and industry.
• Tougher targets for the water industry -- Nearly a quarter of all water still leaks from water company supply pipes. We want to see a continuation of the recent good progress on leakage reduction and improved asset replacement rates for some water companies.

"We take it for granted that water will always flow from our taps, thanks to the security of our supply infrastructure. We will work closely with the water industry to make sure this same high level of security continues into the future," David King said.

Copies of the Water Resources Strategy consultation are available to download at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/wrs. Views are sought by a wide range of stakeholders including government, water companies, Ofwat, consumer groups, environmental organisations, abstraction licence holders and fisheries, conservation and navigation interest groups.

The Environment Agency will produce a new water resources strategy for England and Wales by the end of 2008, including a separate strategy for Wales.

The Environment Agency has statutory responsibility for managing water resources in England and Wales. This means making sure there is enough water available for everyone's needs, without damaging the environment. We achieve this through regulation of water abstraction, environmental monitoring and working closely with the water industry to plan for future needs. Our work is directed by our Water Resources Strategy. The strategy sets out our vision for water resources management for government, the water industry, our license holders and stakeholders.

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