In a statement made by the Public Accountants Committee or PAC, several parts of England are bound to run out of water within twenty years if the entire sector implements no urgent action.
The report concerning the state of water supplies supports the call on the UK government to build a league table that will put pressure on the water companies to deal with leaks urgently. It further pushes for efficiency labels on dishwashers, washing machines, and other domestic products.
In response, the government stated that it had begun a programme to promote better performance across the water sector.
The PAC called out the dull approach of regulators and ministers regarding water supply infrastructure development.
MPs have stated in their report that Defra or the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs failed to demonstrate leadership in tackling the problem.
Meg Hillier, MP committee chair, stated that water firms have also failed to act on the problem. She called on Defra to step up and enforce urgent action before it becomes too late.
The State of Water Supplies report showed that consumers in Wales and England consume around 14 billion litres a day, but one-fifth of the water supply is wasted due to leaky pipes. It further recommended ranking the water companies based on performance, along with a coordinated national message that encourages consumers to conserve water.
The MPs stated that water-related appliances and domestic products should have labels detailing their water efficiency. They also urged the government to prioritise water efficiency when building homes as much as low-carbon heating and energy efficiency are given.
Environment Agency CEO Sir James Bevan maintained that water supply could become scarce unless urgent action is made to change things.
In May 2020, a record-breaking high on water demand was seen due a combination of factors, with the COVID-19 imposed lockdown and the sunniest and driest weather in years as the 2 top factors that contributed to the surge in water use.
The trade association Water UK reported a 20% increase in the average water demand in recent months. Several water companies urged consumers to limit washing cars and watering lawns. Yorkshire Water even warned that the firm’s reservoir was at a lower level than usual.
Concerning PAC’s report, the association recognised the committee’s recommendations, citing a new consumer campaign that will help people understand ways of saving water.
Water UK also agrees with PAC’s sentiment that regulators should enable significant investments in water resilience. The National Infrastructure Commission has recently suggested establishing £21 billion worth of investments by 2050 to make sure that there are enough supplies.
A 7% decrease in leakage incidence was seen this year, as revealed by the trade association. It is one of the key concerns in the industry, which Water UK is pushing to halve by 2050.
Water UK stated that it is continuously working with every stakeholder to address water sector challenges while also protecting customers and the environment. Water companies have committed to spending £5 billion within the next five years to improve water services as well as improving the condition of 5,000 miles of rivers.
MPs have put in great detail the water supply and demand management matters in a comprehensive publication. According to the report, the most significant water resource action to be taken between now and 2045 is leak management. The amount of leakages today is down from the 1990s, which reached over 4.5 billion litres a day. However, more should be done since this figure is higher than twenty years ago.
Ofwat expects leakage to drop by 16% between now and 2025, which could provide 561 million litres of water being saved per day.
Additionally, MPs revealed that the National Audit Office reported water companies are finding it a challenge to identify which infrastructure investment is acceptable to the government. Not Defra nor Ofwat had policies in price reduction, and firms are saying that it’s unclear how they should balance spending while also protecting consumer bills.