Infrastructure consultants are calling for a nationwide ban on hoses and mandatory water metering as the nation prepares for drought.
The National Infrastructure Committee (NIC) has said water needs to start being better managed across the UK or else the country could face a future of bottled emergency supply queues “from the back of trucks”.
The government also needs to invest around £ 20 billion in the nation’s water supply equipment, NIC President Sir John Armitt told The Observer.
“You have to pay for (water), one way or another,” he said.
“It could be investing in new tanks or moving water across the country, as well as stopping the leaks.”
The warning from the committee, which was backed by the Rivers Trust, comes as the year’s first hose ban comes into effect following the recent heatwave and one of the driest beginnings of the year on record.
Southern Water will impose a temporary use ban on its customers in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight from Friday 5th August.
This means that hoses cannot be used to water gardens or clean cars, and ornamental ponds and swimming pools do not need to be filled.
The restriction is the first to be put in place in the region since 2012, with Southern Water saying river flows have declined by 25% due to one of the driest years on record.
On Friday, on the Isle of Man, a ban on hoses was also introduced by Manx Utilities.
The Rivers Trust and Angling Trust have echoed the NIC’s calls for more conscious use of water across the country as the situation is expected to become more severe in the years to come.
Mark Lloyd, of the Rivers Trust, told The Observer: “A nationwide coordinated advertising campaign is needed to reduce water use and universal water metering.
“Low flow rates in rivers are disastrous for wildlife, and ultimately, we need to take much better care of this incredibly valuable resource.”
Mark Owen, of the Angling Trust, criticized the government for its lack of planning for extreme weather conditions, telling The Observer: “There is no strategic, coherent and joint approach. The reaction is always instinctive.
“What happens when we get to this stage, when it is very hot and dry, is that suddenly the use increases as people fill the paddling pools and water their gardens.”
Across the UK it has been the driest July since 1984 so far, averaging 1.5 inches (37.7 mm) of rainfall, and is the eighth driest record dating back to 1836.
The Met Office said it wasn’t just a dry July, but the data also shows England had the driest eight-month period from November 2021 to June 2022 since 1976, when the country struggled with a severe drought. .
In that period, only 16.6 inches (421 mm) of rain fell across England, less than three-quarters (74%) of the 1991-2020 average of 22.4 inches (568 mm).
This year the temperature reached 38.1 ° C in Santon Downham, Suffolk, on July 18 and a record 40.3 ° C in Coningsby, Lincolnshire, on July 19.
Southeast England experienced 24 days of average zero rain between June 1 and July 24 this year, according to data from the Met Office. In the same period of 1976, the region experienced 36 days without rain.