On Tuesday, the head of the UK Environmental Agency warned the country of an impending water shortage in the next 25 years. This will come as a direct result of both climate change and rapid population growth.
As the population grows, so does the need for water necessary to sustain it and by the agency’s estimation, in 25 years the UK will no longer be able to support its population. The effects of climate change have accelerated this. Due to extreme temperature increases, fresh water sources are drying up faster than they normally would.
Rapid Population Growth
The UK’s population is expected to grow from 67 million to 75 million by 2050. This is a 13.64% population increase in the span of 25 years, which is very significant. Currently, UK residents use 140 liters of water daily, but that amount would be cut to just 100 liters in the upcoming 20 years. Unless better water management choices are made, the UK will be unable to support itself.
The idea behind water management is easy to understand. Simply use the least amount of water to accomplish the task at hand. For example, when you brush your teeth, normally the faucet is left on the entire time, which is a huge waste of water.
On average, faucets release two gallons of water every minute, thus turning them off when not needed can save significant amounts of water when considering the size of the population.
Another great example is lawn care. Having a nice lawn is great, but you really don’t need to water it yourself. The lawn will survive from natural rainfall. While these are simple concepts, an unaware population can easy waste large quantities of water.
Global Warming Is Making Water Evaporate
When water is exposed to warm temperatures, it evaporates. The UK is an area that has seen multiple heatwaves in recent times that are due to climate change. Even winter temperature records are being broken. Not only does water consumption go up during these heatwaves, but freshwater sources also dry up faster.
The Yarrow Reservoir dried up during a heatwave in 2018. Events like this will only become more frequent. And on top of happening more often, they will become significantly warmer. Thus climate change is the leading cause of the UK’s future water shortage.
While the UK will not be the only nation suffering from water shortages, it is a strong reminder to use water only when necessary.