England is under serious threat of experiencing water shortages in future as water firms continuously overlook the problem of leaks.
Bodies responsible for water in the UK have “taken their eye off the ball” and the rate of leakage – more than 3bn litres a day – is “wholly unacceptable”, the public accountants’ committee said.
The committee`s report blasted water companies, which were privatised in 1989 and criticised them of being “ponderous” and having a fallback on reducing leaks for two decades.
The report said: “There is a serious risk that some parts of the country [England] will run out of water within the next 20 years … The responsible bodies – the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs [Defra], the Environmental Agency and Ofwat have collectively taken their eye off the ball and urgent action is now required if we are to have a reliable water supply in the years ahead.”
In 2019, nine water companies in England released raw sewage into rivers through storm drains over 200,000 times. MPs damned the performance of water companies and regulators, Ofwat and the Environmental Agency.
Another statement on the report said: “The Environment Agency has prosecuted Thames Water on a number of occasions for breaching the conditions of its permits and allowing sewage to enter rivers from its treatment plants. Major infrastructure programmes also pose a threat.”
The report invoked the government of the UK to provide guidance to water companies on the level of investment that was necessary to ensure resilience by 2050.
MPs said: “Water leakage is now a hugely pressing problem. No one organisation has got a thorough grip on dealing with this issue and driving the change necessary. [Defra] urged water companies in 2016 to make tackling leakage a much higher priority. However, there has still been little progress.”
MPs have urged the government to come up to a strategy, with sufficient funding, in order to increase public awareness of the need to conserve water.