Water Conservation in Uk
UK water use ‘worsening global crisis’| By Richard Black Environment correspondent, BBC News| Climatic change will increase water stress in many places, the report says The amount of water used to produce food and goods imported by developed countries is worsening water shortages in the developing world, a report says - Water Conservation in Uk introduction|| By Richard Black Environment correspondent, BBC News| Climatic change will increase water stress in many places, the report says The amount of water used to produce food and goods imported by developed countries is worsening water shortages in the developing world, a report says. The report, focusing on the UK, says two-thirds of the water used to make UK imports is used outside its borders. The Engineering the Future alliance of professional engineering bodies says this is unsustainable, given population growth and climate change.
It says countries such as the UK must help poorer nations curb water use. “We must take account of how our water footprint is impacting on the rest of the world,” said Professor Roger Falconer, director of the Hydro-Environmental Research Centre at Cardiff University and a member of the report’s steering committee. | If the water crisis becomes critical, it will pose a serious threat to the UK’s future development Professor Peter Guthrie| “If we are to prevent the ‘perfect storm’, urgent action is necessary.
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“The term perfect storm was used last year by the UK government’s chief scientist, Professor John Beddington, to describe future shortages of energy, food and water. Forecasts suggest that when the world’s population soars beyond 8bn in 20 years time, the global demand for food and energy will jump by 50%, with the need for fresh water rising by 30%. But developing countries are already using significant proportions of their water to grow food and produce goods for consumption in the West, the report says.
“The burgeoning demand from developed countries is putting severe pressure on areas that are already short of water,” said Professor Peter Guthrie, head of the Centre for Sustainable Development at Cambridge University, who chaired the steering group. | | “If the water crisis becomes critical, it will pose a serious threat to the UK’s future development because of the impact it would have on our access to vital resources. “Key to the report is the concept of “embedded water” – the water used to grow food and make things.
Embedded in a pint of beer, for example, is about 130 pints (74 litres) of water – the total amount needed to grow the ingredients and run all the processes that make the pint of beer. A cup of coffee embeds about 140 litres (246 pints) of water, a cotton T-shirt about 2,000 litres, and a kilogram of steak 15,000 litres. Using this methodology, UK consumers see only about 3% of the water usage they are responsible for. The average UK consumer uses about 150 litres per day, the size of a large bath.
Ten times as much is embedded in the British-made goods bought by the average UK consumer; but that represents only about one-third of the total water embedded in all the average consumer’s food and goods, with the remainder coming from imports. The UK is not unique in this – the same pattern is seen in most developed countries. | FUTURE WATER STRESSInteractive map: Rising water stress in a changing world| The engineering institutions say it means nations such as the UK have a duty to help curb water use in the developing world, where about one billion people already do not have sufficient access to clean drinking water.
UK-funded aid projects should have water conservation as a central tenet, the report recommends, while companies should examine their supply chains and reduce the water used in them. This could lead to difficult questions being asked, such as whether it is right for the UK to import beans and flowers from water-stressed countries such as Kenya. While growing crops such as these uses water, selling them brings foreign exchange into poor nations.
In the West, the report suggests, concerns over water could eventually lead to goods carrying a label denoting their embedded water content, in the same way as electrical goods now sport information about their energy consumption. The Engineering the Future alliance includes the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) and the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM)| | 2. Action taken to encourage water conservation Government policy 1.
The Government has adopted a twin-track approach to water supply and demand. It expects water companies to assess the full range of options for reducing water demand. Where projected demand reductions are insufficient or unjustified in terms of cost, water companies should also progress with the development of new water supply measures, such as reservoirs. Each option has costs, benefits, risks and uncertainties, and each water company needs to find the most suitable and costeffective balance of measures according to its own circumstances.
2. The same approach also applies to other water users. The projections for demand side measures should be factored into decisions on increasing supplies of water, whether from the mains supply or abstracted directly from the environment. Future Water 3. The Government published Future Water, its new water strategy for England, in February 2008. Future Water sets out a high-level vision for the future of the water sector and some of the steps needed to take us there. 4.
The vision is one where, by 2030 at the latest, we will have: improved the quality of our rivers and lakes and the ecology which they support; sustainably managed risks from all types of flooding and coastal erosion; ensured a sustainable use of water resources; implemented fair, affordable and cost-reflective water charges; cut the greenhouse gas emissions associated with cleaning, supplying and using water, and treating and disposing of wastewater; and integrated adaptation to climate change and other pressures into all aspects of water policy and management.
5. The overarching message of Future Water is the need for everyone to value water and to take responsibility for protecting this unique resource. Water efficiency is a key theme of the strategy, and water efficiency measures will be key to its successful implementation. 6. Future Water sets out a broad range of new water efficiency initiatives and outlines some of the actions that will be taken over the next few years to help conserve water. Some of the key water conservation initiatives scheduled for the near future are set out in Section 3.
Further details on Future Water, including electronic copies of the strategy, are available from the Defra website1. Household behaviour 7. We all need to promote more sustainable behaviours. Government and industry can make it easier to save water and provide incentives, but taking personal responsibility is at the heart of water efficiency. People need clear advice on how to save water, and Government for its part needs to relate this to wider environmental messages to help people understand how their actions can make a difference.
Act on CO2 campaign 8. One of the ways the Government has been seeking to achieve this is through its Act on CO2 campaign2. The campaign was launched in March 2007 and aims to encourage behaviour change to reduce personal carbon emissions and help people lead a greener lifestyle. Addressing hot water use is part of the campaign, as heating water for use at home is responsible for over 5% of total UK greenhouse gas emissions. Saving hot water therefore has the triple benefit of saving water, energy and money spent on bills.
Framework for pro-environmental behaviours 9. In January 2008 Defra published a framework for pro-environmental behaviours3, which includes an improved understanding of consumer attitudes and behaviour and the motivations and barriers to individual and community action across a wide range of environmental issues. The framework identifies water efficiency as one of the headline behaviours. This will help link water saving to other behaviours on energy, waste, transport and environmentally friendly products. Homes and communities Water Saving Group 10.
The Water Saving Group was established in October 2005 to bring together key water industry stakeholders to promote the efficient use of water in households in England. It is chaired by Phil Woolas MP, Minister for the Environment, and comprises representatives from Defra, Business Enterprise Regulation and Reform (BERR), Communities and Local Government (CLG), the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater), the Environment Agency, Ofwat, water companies, Water UK and Waterwise. The overarching aim of the group is to reduce the current level of per capita consumption in households in England.