Fresh Water – time to treat it as a Luxury?

Fresh Water – time to treat it as a Luxury?

2050 – the year by which many areas of England could run out of water.

The Background

In its May 2018 report, the Environment Agency states that abstraction of water in this country is currently running at unsustainable levels in 20% of rivers, meaning we are living on resources ‘borrowed’ from the future.

Photo credit: Ally Matson

Of fresh water in the UK, 36% is used for electricity supply and other industries, which should prompt us to consider everything we buy or use in terms of how much water is required to create it. Anything that is produced by industry – and that includes the food and farming industries – uses huge amounts of water. One kilo of beef uses 15415 litres. One kilo of chocolate consumes 17196 litres. So whether we are eating bananas or cheese, buying prescription drugs, cotton clothes or new technology, unbelievably vast amounts of water are required to grow, process or produce them.

Ways to save water

We can save water by making things last longer, clothes being a prime example. Proctor and Gamble have found that washing in cooler water (30-40 degrees) extends the life of one 3kg basket of clothes by 4 times, saving 230k of Co2 and 7000 litres of water.

Limit your shower to 4 minutes is an easy way to save water. Try the stop/start method, only running the shower when you actually need to rinse off. You save 8 litres for every minute you reduce your shower time. If everyone in the UK would cut 1 minute from their shower we would save over 10,000 million litres of water a year!

Keep a bucket under the bath taps/shower head to collect the water that would otherwise be wasted until the hot comes through, and use that to flush the toilet. If every time you empty the kettle or run the kitchen tap to get hot (or cool) water, you save it in a bowl, you will be amazed at how much water has been wasted each day.  All these little saves are important, not just for the volume of water involved but in creating a mind-set that water is a valuable resource that we should be treating with respect.

Without further action, there is a 1 in 4 chance over the next 30 years that large numbers of households will have their water supply cut off for an extended period because of severe drought.”  National Infrastructure Commission report ‘Preparing for a drier future.’


This article is an extract from a blog by one of our members.