WATER IN PERSPECTIVE
Water is a precious, national commodity.
Although it is currently dicult tocalculate accurately, it is estimated that around 3,300 million litres o water arelost every day in the UK through leakage, mainly due to distribution (watercompany pipe) losses. While the industry has made good progress on riverwater and bathing water quality, and in reducing the number o properties athigh risk o fooding, urther investment is needed to meet uture needs.
Population growth is highest in water-stressed areas.
The UKpopulation is growing at around 400,000 per year and astest in major cities,with particularly strong growth in the water stressed south-east o England. The need to match supply with demand, and to operatemore eciently, will be very important i the network is goingto tolerate changing demographics. The water industry is the UK’s ourth largestconsumer o energy. The current water inrastructurerequires signicant pumping and processing power,equating to around three per cent o overall electricityconsumption and ve million tonnes o greenhousegas emissions annually. Approximately 20 per cent o total direct water costs stem rom the energy involved inits supply, and energy demand in the UK could outstripthat supply by 2016. The industry needs to increase its useo renewable energy and reduce its energy intensity.
Flexibility is required to adapt to climate change.
Weather conditionsin the uture are predicted to become more extreme with a greater number o foods and droughts. Greater resilience and fexibility will be required inoperations to adapt to these conditions.
Legislation has helped to drive change through the sector.
But itsuture impact is uncertain and the consequences o new legislation on utureinvestment may be negative. In 2009, the Cave review made it clear thatthere is an urgent need or greater competition and technical innovation,while the Walker review put the case or a ully metered system.However, the way that competition is introduced and how theindustry evolves needs to ensure that it remains an attractivelong term investment.
Consumer behaviour needs to become parto the solution.
Water is seen as a readily availableand cheap commodity. According to the Environment Agency, 72 per cent o the nation’s 18-24 year oldsare serial wasters o water. There needs to besignicant education and encouraged behaviouralchange to protect this valuable resource or the uture.How can the water industry respond to thesechallenges? What is clear is that there is no short-term x.It is equally clear that the solutions adopted now must becapable o meeting long-term needs.