Businesses urged to reduce water usage

Water flows have improved in the UK's rivers as a result of tighter rules on abstraction for businesses, water companies and agriculture, but there is still a way to go says the Environment Agency (EA).

That’s according to the latest EA figures which show that more than 590 miles of rivers have had their water levels and flows restored, with on average 55bn litres of water each year being returned to the UK’s rivers.

But, the EA warned that further action is still required to reduce the amount of water taken from an additional 210 sites across England and Wales. And as a result, it is calling on businesses to use water more resourcefully and implement water saving initiatives where possible.

EA head of water, land and biodiversity Ian Barker, said: “There is still a lot to do. And it will require businesses to use water more efficiently, reducing the amount they take from rivers that are under pressure.

“Water is a precious resource and we have to use it wisely. The amount of water used by business and people is directly linked to the amount water there is in our rivers for fish and other wildlife.”

The EA said the move to tighten abstraction licenses comes as parts of England prepare for drought this summer, after an “exceptionally dry winter left rivers and groundwaters low”, adding that “pressure on water resources is set to increase”.

Following plans set out in the Water White paper ‘Water for Life’ the EA has also launched a ‘Restoring Sustainable Abstraction’ programme in a bid to protect water levels.

In addition, funding has been secured by the EA to help water companies improve water levels and quality at 150 sites by 2015.

Environment minister Richard Benyon, said: “We have seen over the last year the problems that a lack of water can create; environmental damage caused when rivers run low, farmers unable to irrigate their crops and some water companies taking steps to protect water supplies.”

Carys Matthews

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie