Poll reveals paradox of how Britons are unaware of looming water crisis

24th June 2020


Nearly three quarters of people believe there is enough water to meet the UK's needs despite the country potentially facing significant shortages in less than 25 years due to climate change and population growth.

A survey of 2,000 adults reveals 72% believe the UK has enough water and 77% think it is a “wet and rain country“.

Yet a myriad of factors are putting increasing strain on the UK's water supply, including population growth, increasing household consumption and climate change. This is amid wetter winters, but dryer summers with last February was the wettest on record while May was one of the driest.

The poll is part of latest research by the Love Water partnership, which includes the Environment Agency and Water UK, with insights from Cranfield University.

People might wonder how a country with such a reputation for rain like the UK could reach a tipping point where demand for water outstrips supply in just 25 years,“ said Environment Agency Sir James Bevan. “But this may become a reality if we don't take action to save water now.

The fact is a convergence of factors underpinned by climate change has led us to this frightening prospect. But if we all take concerted action now we can ensure that there will be enough water to go around for generations to come.

Water usage is low down on the list of current environmental concerns of the public at just 10%, with plastic pollution at 39%, energy consumption at 22%, food waste at 16%, and carbon footprint at 11% all considered more important.

However the research also reveals people's attitudes to water and the environment may be changing since the Covid-19 pandemic and the increased importance of hand-washing.

A total of 83% appreciate access to clean running water more, 82% appreciate the natural world more, 69% are more concerned about the environment and sustainability while 76% are more aware of human impact on nature.

A total of 88% of people surveyed would be willing to reduce their daily water consumption by a third if they knew how.

The report says small, everyday changes at home are vital to avoiding future pressures on water supplies, including people being mindful of running taps, taking shorter showers and fewer baths, and avoiding pre-rinsing dishes before loading a dishwasher.

Image credit: iStock

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