A new London Assembly report today sets out a range of measures to help London manage its limited water supplies more effectively and avoid drought restrictions in the future.
Water Matters by the Assembly’s Health and Environment Committee warns the capital cannot rely solely on its own rainfall and makes a number of recommendations to reduce the amount of water used by each Londoner – currently around 167 litres per day – and cut leakage.
The London Assembly report says although this year’s restrictions came to an end after exceptionally heavy rain, uncertainties about future levels of rainfall, an increasing population and the effects of climate change are placing more pressure on precious water supplies.
Despite improvements by water companies, around a quarter of London’s treated drinking water is lost through leakage. The report warns leakage rates are not likely to improve significantly in the next few years as all four of London’s water companies are already meeting or doing better than the Ofwat targets set up to 2015.
The report calls for Ofwat to fully include long-term economic, social and environmental costs of supplying water when it reviews its methodology for calculating leakage targets and, together with the water companies, look at assessing the true value of water.
Murad Qureshi AM, Chair of the Health and Environment Committee, said:
“Water is a precious resource that is in limited supply and more must be done to preserve it if we’re to avoid a repeat of drought restrictions in future years.
“Our report sets out practical steps that can be taken in London to ease the pressure on our water supplies by reducing leakage and consumption in the home.”
The report says there is significant scope for improving water efficiency in homes – through aerators on taps and hosepipe fittings, for example. The Committee also calls on DECC to reconsider excluding cold water efficiency measures when the national Green Deal comes in – these measures have so far been included in the Mayor’s RE:NEW programme.
The Committee calls for water companies to step up the pace of installing water meters in all properties by 2025. Currently only around a quarter of London’s households have water meters. The report also recommends that Ofwat should work with water companies to implement social tariffs for water billing to support essential water usage by vulnerable people.
Notes to editors:
- Read the full report: ‘Water Matters – Efficient water management in London’.
- The capital was officially in drought earlier this year after two years of below-average rainfall.
- London’s population is expected to grow from about 8 million now to 9 million or more by 2031.
- In the longer term it is expected that autumn, winter and spring will be wetter but summer drier. This could mean more water overall, but there could be challenges in collecting the water in the cooler months and making it last through the dry summers. Temperatures are also expected to rise, which could increase evaporation and/or water demand.
- See Ofwat leakage targets in table 2 on page 16 of the report.
- The following information should be included: Full costs of extracting water from the environment; the social and economic costs of water use restrictions in periods of water shortage; the economic, social and environmental costs of flooding caused by major leaks; the consumer behavioural effects of the visibility of water leaks; and publicity about leakage levels, especially in times of water shortage when consumers are being asked to use less water.
- RE:NEW is a domestic efficiency programme
- Murad Qureshi AM, Chair of the Health and Environment Committee, is available for interview. See contact details below.
- As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.
For more details, please contact Lisa Moore in the Assembly Media Office on 020 7983 4228/4283. For out of hours media enquiries please call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the Assembly duty press officer. Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit, Greater London Authority, on 020 7983 4100.