Climate change and energy demands could force North West to donate water to rest of the UK

Flooding on the Fylde Coast in 2018.
Flooding on the Fylde Coast in 2018.
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A climate change crisis could result in part of England’s water supplies being unable to meet demands- becoming dependent upon the North West by 2035, a report has warned.

A report for the IPPR North said that climate change could result in the North West donating water to more “water stressed” areas, as more droughts are expected across the country- despite an increase in rainfall and flooding in winter.

The report also said that population growth, increased demand for energy and increased water efficiency will have a significant effect on water supply in the drier parts of the country, especially in the South.

Jack Hunter, a research fellow at IPPR North, said: “According to United Utilities’ Water Resource Management Plan 2019, overall demand (in the North West) is expected to decrease slightly (2 per cent of total demand).

“The water company has included in its draft WRMP consideration of a future water trading scheme from the North West to other parts of the UK that have lower levels of water security.”

The report said that the future resilience of the North’s water supply depends upon significant investment, and everyone playing their part.

IPPR North said that public attitudes to water need to change, and policy makers need to encourage the public to use water more responsibly.

Last month, the environment agency told water companies to improve their services after only one major water and sewerage company performed at the level expected.

Executive director of operations Dr Toby Willison said: "Water companies need to clean up their act.

"People expect water companies to improve the environment, not pollute rivers and ensure secure supplies of water.

"With only one exception, none of the companies are performing at the level we wish to see, the country expects and the environment needs. We will continue to challenge CEOs to improve company performance and we will take strong and appropriate enforcement action."

A spokesman for United Utilities said: “Every five years we update our water resources plan which looks ahead 25 years. We take into account water availability, weather patterns, demand from customers and the needs of the environment. This shows we have enough water for the North West and some surplus which could potentially supply other regions.

“We are currently investigating the possibility of water trading, whether it’s feasible, economically viable and would not affect the service we provide our customers.

“In addition, we are also working hard to make our network more resilient. On leakage we have an ambitious 20% planned reduction over the next 5 years. This includes rolling out around 100,000 ‘acoustic’ loggers across our vast underground water supply network, which will provide real-time data, allowing us to respond faster and more accurately when a pipe begins to leak.”