A concerted effort on demand management combined with new technology and innovations could reduce average water consumption per head by two-thirds over the next 50 years, a report by Ofwat has suggested. With climate change and a growing population likely to place ever greater strains on our vital water resources, the regulator is exploring the kind of things that could help to cut demand for water over the next 50 years - from fixing leaky loos to investing in major new innovations.
A report explores what demand for water might be in 2065. On average, currently ~140 litres of water per person per day is used in England and Wales, up from 85 litres per person in the 1960s. Tackling household leaks and using innovative technologies could help to decrease water usage by 2/3 or over one bath per person per day - over the next 50 years. Climate change is going to have a significant impact on the water sector, though due to its inherently unpredictable nature, we do not know to what extent. There are projections that suggest the UK population could grow by upwards of 10 million people over the next 20 to 30 years.
The main way in which water companies have met rising demand in the past has been through measures including taking more water from the environment and building infrastructure to store it. But this isn’t without its environmental and structural problems, so new solutions are needed. The report is titled ‘The long term potential for deep reductions in household water demand’ was produced for Ofwat by Artesia Consulting. John Russell, Ofwat’s Senior Director of Strategy and Planning, said: “With a fifty-year time horizon, we can afford to look beyond the current constraints, to think about the deep reductions that consumers could make, if we all work together. As well as being an important resource for our future price reviews – and to an extent the one that’s gearing up now - we hope that this study provokes discussion in the sector.”
Nicci Russell, Managing Director of Waterwise said, “We share Ofwat’s appetite for more ambitious water efficiency - for customers, the environment, society and the economy. Why not cut water use by half in the next 50 years? That time period brings a wealth of opportunities. We all have a role to play, and strong relationships with customers will be really important, alongside innovation. We should get the basics right too - we shouldn’t be fitting or selling products that leak or waste water! We look forward to working with government and the sector to set an ambitious target for England and Wales.”