Ministers must act on drought threat
10 June 2011
Commenting on news today (Friday 10 June 2011) that large parts of England are officially in drought after the driest spring since records began, Friends of the Earth's Policy and Campaigns Director Craig Bennett said:
"Despite growing water use and the prospect of drier summers successive Governments have failed to tackle the problem - leaving large parts of the nation facing the prospect of being left high and dry.
"Our water supplies have been taken for granted for far too long and now we're facing a drought that could devastate our wildlife, rivers and crops.
"Minsters must act to ensure we change the way we use our water instead of wasting it through badly designed buildings and appliances, poor planning and inadequate investment."
Friends of the Earth is calling for a number of measures including:
· Stonger water efficiency standards for buildings, homes and appliances;
· Tougher action on leaking pipes - despite significant progress by many water companies over recent years more could be done. Ofwat and the Government must give this a higher priority;
· A duty on water firms to help less well off customers save water. For example this could include fitting water-efficient toilets, taps and showers. Energy companies already have an equivalent duty to help poorer customers save energy;
· Stricter planning controls on house building and other developments so they don't have a devastating impact on local water resources;
· An end to unsustainable abstraction licences to restrict water being sucked out of our rivers and wildlife sites.
Notes to editors:
1. Water efficiency measures could include:
· Houses (or whole developments) which collect their own water in reclamation tanks for use in places that don't need purified water, such as gardens and toilets. These measure can also help reduce flooding problems as they catch run- off water during intense rainfall.
· Low flush toilets. These can significantly water use to between two and four litres Standard toilets in the UK use six litres of water - and older ones can use up to 14 litres.
2. The Government's Natural Environment White Paper, published earlier this week, recognises that too much water is taken from rivers, saying:
"Changes are needed to the water abstraction regime because the current regime is not efficient at protecting the environment and meeting our needs for water. Around 12% of water bodies are unsustainably abstracted, and low water flows are implicated in damaging natural water systems. Without costly action these will get worse as climate change reduces water availability and population increases drive rising demand for water. We will reform the abstraction regime...to protect ecosystem function...also take steps to tackle unsustainable abstraction more efficiently."
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Published by Friends of the Earth Trust
Last modified: Jun 2011