With the deregulation of the non-domestic water market approaching, businesses are being urged to look at water efficiency to curtail the increasing risk of water drought in the UK.
New research from Water UK has found that England and Wales may be facing longer, more frequent and more acute water shortages over the next 50 years due to climate change, population growth, environmental protection measures and trends in water use.
The report states that a rise in water demand due to population and economic growth “could mean less water available for business use”.
Drier regions such as the south and east of England are expected to suffer the most, but northern regions will also be more exposed to water shortages in future.
Water UK’s modelling shows that extensive measures to both manage demand and enhance the supply of water will be needed to contain the risk of drought, including more efficient water use in businesses.
While the increasing risk of severe downpours and flooding in future is well-known, businesses are less aware of the risks posed by drought.
The cost of inaction could be very high, reaching an estimated £1.3 billion per day during periods of drought in the most severe scenarios.
Agriculture, textiles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and the metal industry are among those most at risk.
‘Every tool in the box’
Michael Roberts, chief executive of Water UK, said companies, the government, regulators and other agencies needed to “raise their game” to keep water supply stable in future.
“Since privatisation, the [water] industry has invested billions of pounds in securing the nation’s precious water resources, but we all need to do more in the face of current and future pressures on those resources”, he said.
“We will need every tool in the box. We will need more efficient use of water at home, in business and in agriculture.”
Businesses are being urged to prepare for the non-domestic water market opening for competition in 2017, which will mean that businesses will be able to switch to suppliers offering the best deal and more support with water efficiency.
The water industry’s Open Water website has been updated to help keep businesses informed of the opportunities the market will bring.
Several other tools are available to help businesses improve their water efficiency, including a six-step action plan from Business In The Community and the government’s Water Technology List (WTL) of measures that qualify for enhanced capital allowance benefits.