London tops worst water wasters league as officials draft drought plans amid crisis fears

Jeremy Vine guest slams water companies for hosepipe ban

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With hose pipe bans starting in the south east of England on August 12, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), headed up by Environment Secretary George Eustice, has said it has drought plans in place with the Environment Agency and water companies if the situation worsens. But a league table provided by experts at Utility Bidder has revealed that currently people in London and the Thames Valley are using an enormous 7 billion litres of water a day – as much as the next nine highest regions combined.

More concerning is that people and businesses living in the capital are drawing on a rate of 467 litres per person each day with the next highest region Northern Ireland at 311 litres per person a day.

To put it in perspective, Affinity Water which mainly serves the East of England and South East, and South East Water which have both imposed hose pipe vans have a usage of just 250 and 233 litres per person a day respectively.

Britain’s most water efficient part of the country are the customers of South Water in the south of England using a mere 113 litres per day each.

Concerns have been mounting after last month was the driest July on England since 1935, with 13 counties – including Hampshire – reporting their driest July on record.

The average rainfall for the month in Hampshire is normally 55.24mm.

However, the Global Water Footprint Report reveals that the UK is only 14th in the world on water usage.

Top of the table is the United Arab Emerates on 2,270 litres followed by the USA on 2,200 and Canada and Israel both on 1,670 litres.

Europe has seen a water shortage this summer, with the Dutch government last week announcing emergency measures like banning car washes.

A briefing shared with from Defra highlights that while there is no crisis currently after a very dry summer, plans are in place to deal with possible drought conditions.

The Defra background briefing notes:

  • Prolonged dry weather this year has led to exceptionally low river flows across much of England and reservoir levels falling across Yorkshire, central and southwest England. Recent high temperatures have added additional pressures on the water environment and wildlife.
  • Most of England has moved to Prolonged Dry Weather status. However, most water companies are maintaining reservoir storage for summer demand.
  • We are working very closely with water companies and other abstractors to take pre-cautionary actions like the recent temporary-use bans (TUB) introduced by Southern Water and South East Water to reduce unnecessary water use, protect customer supplies and ensure the needs of the environment are met.
  • Several water companies are enacting their drought plans where needed to maintain water supply and we will continue to encourage precautionary action to help conserve water supplies and protect the environment. We can all do our part to use water wisely, reduce our usage and manage this precious resource.

Last month, the National Drought Group, chaired by the Environment Agency, agreed to continue to work closely together to manage the current situation.

The Environment Agency already has a range of measures to handle drought-risk across England, many of which are already in action, such as managing abstraction licences to balance need; ensuring water companies implement their drought plans where necessary; working with farmers to manages resources; and rescuing fish in areas where river levels are extremely low.


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Meanwhile, Utility Bidder, which provides advice on switching supplier, has put out advice to conserve more water.

1. Open the tap less: Only open taps and faucets just enough to lightly water your hands   when washing.

2. Take shorter showers and reducing the frequency of baths can help save water.

3. Avoid using appliances like the dishwasher and laundry machine unless you have a full load.

4. Cleaning products and sprays can be more effective than a damp cloth and reduce your water consumption.

5. For instantly cold water without having to run the tap, use a jug of water in the fridge.

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