The National Infrastructure Committee (NIC) has stated that water needs to be better managed across the UK, or else the country will be forced to queue for emergency bottled supplies “from the back of lorries.”
According to NIC chairman Sir John Armitt, the government must also invest around £20 billion in the nation’s water supply equipment.
“You have to pay for (water) in some way,” he said.
“This could include investing in new reservoirs or transporting water across the country, as well as repairing leaks.”
The Rivers Trust has backed the committee’s warning, which comes as the first hosepipe ban of the year goes into effect following the recent heatwave and one of the driest starts to the year on record.
Southern Water’s customers in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight will face a temporary use ban beginning on Friday, August 5.
Hosepipes will be prohibited from being used to water gardens or clean cars, and ornamental ponds and swimming pools will be prohibited from being filled.
The restriction is the first in the region since 2012, with Southern Water reporting that river flows are down by 25% as a result of one of the driest years on record.
Manx Utilities also imposed a hosepipe ban on the Isle of Man on Friday.
The Rivers Trust and the Angling Trust echoed the NIC’s calls for more cautious water use across the country, as the situation is expected to worsen in the coming years.
The Rivers Trust’s Mark Lloyd told The Observer: “There needs to be a nationally coordinated publicity campaign to reduce water use, as well as universal water metering.”
“Low river flows are disastrous for wildlife, and we ultimately need to take much better care of this incredibly valuable resource.”