Last reviewed 8 July 2021

The Government has announced plans to encourage businesses and households across England to use water more efficiently to protect essential water services.

The plans, announced by Environment Secretary, George Eustice, aim to balance the growing demand on national supplies with commitments to achieve clean and plentiful water and to support net zero targets.

Environment Agency (EA) chair Emma Howard Boyd described fresh water as “the world’s most precious commodity” and warned of serious shortages unless consumption can be reduced.

“If we continue to operate as usual, by 2050 the amount of water available in England could be reduced by 10 to 15 percent. Parts of England are over-abstracted, and we are already making hard choices.”

The EA’s National Framework indicates that an additional 25% of the current daily volume put into our public water supply will be needed in England by 2050 to meet future pressures on public supply.

Businesses use 20% of the total water put into public supply. In a statement, Eustice said; “Water companies and retailers have worked with the Government, regulators, the market operator and Waterwise to produce an action plan to sustainably reduce businesses’ water use.”

The plan includes understanding how businesses use their water and addressing regulatory and other relevant barriers to the delivery of business water efficiency and supporting businesses to save water though information awareness.

Other proposals include mandatory water efficiency labels for products such as dishwashers and showers, similar to the traffic light energy efficiency labels that already exist.

There will be more pressure on water companies to significantly reduce supply pipe leakages from the current 25% to 50% reduction by 2050. Local authorities will also be encouraged to adopt a tighter standard of 110 litres per person per day, compared with the current standard of 125 litres. The move will require developers to install more efficient fixtures and fittings in new premises.

Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow, said: “We must all work harder to tackle the pressures on our water resources by understanding and challenging ourselves on how much water we need to use in our daily lives.”