Wavin Spotlight

The value of water

Water has the power to both support life and devastate lives around the world. This year for world water day, we reflect on the value of water in the UK and how this could affect our view of surface water management for the future.


Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency has brought water firmly into the spotlight this week with his latest speech at the Waterwise conference. Bevan warned that within 25 years England will not have enough water to meet demand.

Sir James Bevan‘s warnings were more stark and pressing than ever before. He explained how the combination of climate change and population growth, mean that the country is facing an ‘existential threat’. His use of dramatic terms such as the ‘jaws of death’ signalled his desire to shock and persuade the public into greater consideration of their water usage.

The average person in England uses 140 litres of water per day. In Sir James Bevan’s speech, he urged the public to cut their water usage to 10 litres, the target set by Waterwise, an organisation campaigning for water efficiency. He also highlighted the role of water companies in fixing leaks, dealing with pollution and future-proofing water delivery systems.

World Water Day (22nd March 2019) is an annual day organised by the UN to recognise the importance of fresh water. The day is celebrated around the world and used to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. It seems like an ideal time to reflect on the value of water in the UK and beyond.

The laws of supply and demand mean that both water shortages and risk and supply management will cause an increase in the cost of water to consumers. Fresh water is easily accessible in the UK just by turning on a tap, but that also means that it is often perceived as a throwaway commodity that can be left to run away into the drains with no consequence.

Could an increase in the value of water in the UK, lead to a step change in how we think about surface water management? Could the higher value of water create greater investment and drive innovation solutions for reuse of surface water?

Join the discussion and add your comments below!

Spotlight on drainage

This article is part of Wavin's Spotlight campaign, an initiative to promote "out of the box" thinking around the connected challenges posed by flood waters, climate change and urban development.

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