UK water security at crisis point, warns ICE

The UK's water security is at a critical point and decisive action must be taken to safeguard water resources, according to the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).

Unveiling its State of the Nation: Water report today (June 7), the civil engineering body warned that the urgency and severity of the UK’s water issues are still not properly understood and that the recent droughts have been a “wake-up call”.

The report rates the UK’s current water security levels as 4 on a scale of 1-10, and in response ICE is now calling for the creation of a UK Water Security Taskforce to deliver an integrated roadmap to water security by spring 2014, based on strategic plans from all Governments.

It proposes that the roadmap includes “time-bound steps” to increase water security to level 8 or 9, which it predicts could lift the UK’s water resources out of danger by 2025.

Further proposes include; the development of new water storage facilities across the country, the removal of regulatory barriers that discourage water sharing between neighbouring companies and collaborative investment in new infrastructure.

However, ICE water panel chair Michael Norton warned that there is no “silver bullet solution”.

He said: “We are a populous nation facing a growing gap between what we can supply and what our water users need. Sadly it’s only when hose-pipe bans are inflicted on us that the public has any glimpse of this reality. We have a valuable opportunity while water is in the forefront of the nation’s minds to impress on the public the real value of this resource and we mustn’t squander it.

“The changes ICE is recommending will require some upheaval to current regulations as well as firm decisions on how to forecast future demand, but once done we would see the effect relatively quickly.”

The report concluded that changing pricing structures to reflect the “true value of water” and building smaller but more evenly distributed water storage facilities across the UK will also be “crucial”.

Mr Norton added: “However the single biggest problem is the low value we place on water. It’s currently much undervalued and provided to most of us without limit.”

Carys Matthews

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