Water & Wastewater Treatment

WWT October 2016

Water & Wastewater Treatment Magazine

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www.wwtonline.co.uk | WWT | OCTOBER 2016 | 23 Close-Up Drought resilience Drought resilience measures require national investment ● Water UK research report warns of drought scenarios ● 50-year planning tools used to predict water shortages ● National action plan required for resilience investments T here is a significant and growing risk of severe drought impacts arising from climate change and population growth, and concerted action is needed now to build resilience of supply, a report by Water UK has concluded. The first-of-its kind research modelled the possible effects of climate change, population growth, environmental protection measures and trends in water use to produce a wide range of future scenarios. It deployed new modelling techniques to look 50 years ahead across the whole of England and Wales. Three dry winters would be enough to bring about a severe drought in the UK, argues the report James BroCkett EdiTOR WATER & WASTEWATER TREATMENT The results suggest that, in some scenarios, we are facing longer, more frequent and more acute droughts than previously thought. Drier areas of the country (the south and east of England) face a higher risk of more severe droughts than those experienced in the past, while English regions further to the north and west are also more exposed to the prospect of future water shortages. The modelling shows that extensive measures to manage demand as well as enhance supplies of water are needed to contain the risk of drought. The report therefore calls for a 'twin track' approach, under which demand management initiatives - including the promotion of more efficient water use in homes and businesses, improved building standards and widespread use of smart metering – must be used in tandem with ambitious plans on the supply side, such as moving more water from one region to another through existing waterways and new pipelines, building new reservoirs, treating more water for re-use and building desalination plants to make use of sea water. The report's authors conclude that, by adopting a step-by-step approach, the additional cost of making the supply of water more resilient to severe droughts would be equivalent to about £4 per annum per household. By contrast, the impact on the economy of inaction could be very high, costing an estimated £1.3 billion per day during the most widespread situations of severe drought modelled in the report. Jean Spencer, Regulation Director at Anglian Water, who chaired the project, said: "The threat of drought is already with us - were it not for the unprecedented rainfall in the spring of 2012, we might have suffered significant problems with water supply that summer. This is world class research that will support companies and government in planning for resilient water resources in the future." The report makes the case for the UK and Welsh Governments to consider adopting consistent national minimum levels of resilience. The

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