Issues Surrounding Water Resources in England

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The purpose of this paper is to outline the issues i.e. (environmental, economic and social issues) surrounding water resources. This will briefly explain what water resources are and will highlight the pressure towards the construction industry in the South East of England. Adding on to this will be how the housing development has a negative effect to environment and land use, which will be advised through how sustainable development and construction help to resolve these issue and over these problems now and the in the future.

Initially, water is seen as a resource that comes in an unlimited supply, it gets used by farming and other industries, as well as the population in the south east of England. There are three main sources: reservoirs, rivers and underground aquifers. The main problem is there an increasing demand for water supply as every year; around 18 billion tons of water is taken from these sources in England and only 6 billion is put back into water supply. Electricity generation uses 9 billion tonnes, industry uses 2.1 billion tonnes, farming uses 0.2 billion tonnes, and the other uses such as fish farming account for the rest (Benn, 2008). Water resources is an ever increasing demand within the South East of England and has few development pressures to meet these factors such as the increasing population, economic activity, low rainfall and impact of climate change (Environment Agency,2005). All of these factors relate to the construction industry as you will need enough water to meet the rising demand for the new housing and domestic construction (Every and Foley, 2005).

Furthermore, the population of England and Wales is projected to grow by about 5% over the next 20 years. New housing development will grow even more quickly, with 80% of demand being for single-person dwellings (Environment Agency,2005), and that has looping effect back to climate change, causing droughts by abstractions from rivers and boreholes to meet the demands of many more households using much more water, leaving water tables and rivers being structurally depleted and wetlands degraded. The wildlife is dependent on them has been forced into tighter corridors, with some populations (Warren, 2007).

Another problem highlighted by an environment protection campaign is that the water systems have an increased amount of stress because more houses are being built evidently and that is becoming too much for the systems in place to take care of. The water systems are surrounding them with hard run off surfaces such as driveways, roads and roofs. The Government housing targets continually add more stress (Warren, 2007). These actions are supported and maintained in the frameworks for water supply and building regulations that are considered good practice by right minded individuals. However, this is not the right thing as the level of stress on water systems on the South East is too high so the only way to combat this is with using new incentives and methods to reduce the stress and this managing water as an available, renewable resource.

In the next part, this essay will focus on the concepts how sustainable development relates to water resources. Sustainable development is a vital tool that manages the quantity and quality of water resources in a preserved and healthy manner (Flint,2004). Also, sustainable development is how South East England conserves water and how the water boards can improve their infrastructure to be more efficient with waste. This will be solving and reducing the usage of water and managing through The Government, OFWAT, Environment Agency, and The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is responsible for all aspects of water policy in England and Wales. The Environment Agency, the Office of Water Services and the Drinking Water Inspectorate have their framework set out by them from the DEFRA (DEFRA,2004).

Water companies are meant to have a water resources management plan which indicates how the water company preserves stability between the supply and demand for water over the next decade or so (Environment Agency, 2005). Companies such as Defra have to abide by these regulations so that they are justifiable and they do not cost much money. Inherently, the supply-demand chain compares the available size of the water supply to a forecast demand for a water resource zone. By using the water resources management plans that company’s use, The Environment Agency can work with them to plan and predict resolutions to combat any deficits in the supply.

The water resources management plan that has been put in place has actually improved the supply and demand balance for the whole of the South East of England. This essentially means that there is less areas with insufficient water to meet massive demands in a dry year. Also, the improvement could also be down to water companies implementing smaller supply schemes such as upgrading boreholes (Environment Agency, 2005).

Another issue that sustainable development improves water resources is through preventing and reducing leakage. Water companies have helped decreased the levels of leakage in the South East of England, it was recorded that in 1999/2000 the total levels reported where 522 million litres per day whereas recently it’s been reduced to 507 million litres per day in 2008/2009 (Environment Agency, 2005). However, in retrospect even though it has been reduced by an amount, it still doesn’t seem like a large reduction has been made, therefore, one way it can be reduced even more is if The Office for Water Services (Ofwat) could enforce leakage targets (Every and Foley, 2005). Water companies should have to be enforced a penalty if they fail to meet certain leakage targets that are set up to reduce waste.

Another method of how sustainable development improves managing the demand for water would be through water metering, since it help promotes more efficient use of water. It is reported that houses within England, only 30% have a water meter installed (Benn,2008). Water meters encourage the customer to save money while saving water; this in turn ends up being an effective water saving measure, since water consumption for households is reduced by 10% when a meter is installed.

Additionally, another concept that overcomes and finds solutions to water resource management is sustainable construction. Sustainable Construction in relation to water resources is how architects can design buildings to reduce water usage. What things can be installed to reduce the amount of water? Sustainable Construction is basically how can architects design buildings to help reduce water usage and to help reduce water usage and types of devices that can be installed to reduce the amount of water used.

Problems with the south east of England is that it’s constantly in a high demand for water supply, thus becoming the driest parts of the UK, this in turn has affected Domestic Water Consumption to increase by 70 % (Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council, 2009). Also, sustainable construction helps reduce the strain on the water industry by using water efficiency measures that can be implemented into new buildings and old. Water saving devices such as duel flush /low flush toilets can reduce the flush volume by a couple of litres of water(HM Government, 2008). Another measure would be having waterless urinals instead since standard urinals use around 6-10 litres of water to flush, this can also be followed up with self-closing taps that are cheap and easy to install as well as the fact that self-closing taps automatically close the water flow in order to save water (HM Government, 2008).

Another measure that is very efficient is rainwater harvesting, this involves the collection of water that would have most likely been wasted by going down the drain or being lost through heating. A water butt is implemented so that it can collect rainwater from any pipe in the garden. Much larger systems can collect rainwater and filter it from the roof or large areas surrounding the property (Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council, 2009). However, this water isn’t for consuming but more to supply toilets and washing machines. Water butts are mainly for domestic households whereas large systems are used for schools and offices.

Also, reclaimed water is another key feature of sustainable construction. Reclaimed water is water which has already been used. There are 2 types of reclaimed water and they are grey water recycling and black water recycling. Grey water recycling consists of water that has been used in baths and wash basins which can be sterilized on site and used for purposes such as toilet flushing and watering the garden; this however is not suitable drinking water. The other form of reclaimed water is black water recycling, that is used for toilet flushing and washing up, this can be reused though an intricate system that breaks down the solids and purifies the water to be reused. This also isn’t suitable drinking water and has high maintenance costs for domestic households; this would suit better for large properties or sites.

In Conclusion, In order to respond to the environmental pressures facing the South East, in a way that doesn’t simply solve one problem by causing another, means that society has to change, and change in ways that move it towards integrated, sustainable development. Environmental issues cut across both economic and social concerns and this must be embraced if we are to successfully address and deliver sustainable solutions.

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Campaign to Protect Rural England, (2007).A Water Resource Strategy for the South East of England. Kent: CPRE Kent, pp.5-39.

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Environment Agency, (2010).State of the Environment - South East England. Bristol: Environment Agency, pp.20-34.

Every, L. and Foley, J. (2005).Managing Water Resources and Flood Risk in the South East. 1st ed. [ebook] London: The Institute for Public Policy Research, pp.1-27. Available at: water 1.pdf [Accessed 29 Nov. 2014].

Flint, W. (2004). The Sustainable Development of Water Resources.Water Resources Update, (127), pp.48-59.

HM Government, (2014).Future Water The Government’s water strategy for England. Norwich: TSO (The Stationery Office), pp.7-80.

Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Local Development Framework, (2009).Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Local Development Framework. Maidenhead: Planning and Development Unit, pp.22-24.