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Less water than parts of Africa

January 14, 2009 at 2:13 pm

A startling fact hit the headlines recently regarding the water shortage in the South East of England: apparently ten million of us live in areas where we have less water per head than residents of countries such as Egypt and Morocco. As far as Europe is concerned, we have more of a problem than most, with only the sun drenched countries of Cyprus, Malta, Spain, and Italy faring worse.

Over fifty percent of households in England and Wales are located in areas where demand exceeds supply and, if we start having the dry summers predicted by climate change forecasters, nearly 25 million of us will have hosepipe bans and other measures imposed. Fortunately, because of the wet spring and summer of the last two years, we are unlikely to face restrictions this summer, even if it proves to be a dry one.

According to figures from the Environment Agency, each of us uses on average 32 gallons of water each day and the Agency would like us to cut this down to 28 gallons. This can be done in various ways but they are also calling for the quicker introduction of water meters to help ease the situation. Households which have had water meters fitted use on average 13% less water than other households so this could be a very good move. However, with only 30% of houses currently having a meter installed, it could take 30 years for the whole of England and Wales to have one fitted.

The third proposal favoured by the Environment Agency concerns the water companies. If they mended the leaking pipes around the country, then 3.5 billion litres of water could be saved each day. Given the fact that the water companies made a profit of around a billion pounds last year, perhaps it is not unreasonable to expect the giants to do their fair share to help the situation.

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