The head of the Environment Agency is warning that England could run out of water in just 25 years.
Sir James Bevan is set to announce that because of the country’s rising population, we are now in the “jaws of death” because of increased demand.
He says the country’s rising population is on the verge of exceeding the falling supply of water. Climate change is also a factor, he said.
He said: “Around 25 years from now, where those [demand and supply] lines cross is known by some as the ‘jaws of death’ – the point at which we will not have enough water to supply our needs, unless we take action to change things.”
He said he wants water waste to be as taboo as “blowing smoke into a baby’s face” or “throwing plastic bags into the sea.”
Sir James is to deliver a speech at the Waterwise conference in London.
Running short of water could be avoided if people’s water use was cut by a third and leakage from water company pipes by 50 per cent, he says.
Transfers of water across the country, larger, new reservoirs and more desalination plants could also help in efforts to conserve water, he added.
The population of the UK is set to rise dramatically, from about 67 million to 75 million in 2050, it is claimed, and with it will come a higher demand for water.
“Water companies all identify the same thing as their biggest operating risk: climate change,” he is set to say.
By 2040, more than half of our summers are expected to be hotter than the 2003 heatwave, he says, leading to more water shortages and potentially 50-80% less water in some rivers in the summer.