Hosepipe ban will help - but better water planning needed
12 March 2012
We support today’s announcement by seven water companies to impose hosepipe bans from 5 April - it's an important move to reduce water extraction from drought-affected rivers. But it’s a last minute fix, and we believe the government needs to do more to stop our rivers running dry in future.
Today’s release of the Environment Agency’s Drought Prospects report comes after two of the driest years in the south and east of Britain since records began.
We're calling for urgent government action to introduce reforms that ensure sufficient protections are in place to protect our freshwater environments - before it’s too late.
Rose Timlett from our freshwater team says: "Rivers are running dry or getting too low, which can have devastating effects on wildlife such as trout, salmon and water voles.
"All the water we use comes from rivers and the natural environment, so anything we can do to reduce the water we take will lessen the impact on wildlife. This is why it's so important for us all to savour every last drop and help our rivers through this drought.
“While we can’t control the weather, we can control the way we manage and use water. The government must now wholeheartedly support water metering and urgently reform the way water is extracted from our rivers.
“This drought could be a sign of things to come as the climate changes. It’s so important that the government acts now to implement its proposals through introducing the necessary legislation this year and allowing water companies to reduce unsustainable levels of extraction from rivers as part of their normal business planning.”
News from this week's World Water Forum
From 12-17 March, 140 international ministerial delegates are convening in Marseille for the 6th World Water Forum, to discuss a host of issues related to freshwater.
Water scarcity already affects at least 2.7 billion people for at least one month each year, according to a recent report from WWF, the University of Twente, Water Footprint Network and The Nature Conservancy.
To coincide with the Forum we've released new analysis of the reality of water conflicts - in a report called 'Water conflict - myth or reality' - and the actions needed to avoid a future marred by so-called 'water wars'.
We're recommending that Forum delegates push their governments to sign the UN Watercourses Convention. The Convention will guarantee a fair inter-governmental management of water systems that cross international boundaries, and is crucial to avoid or arbitrate future water conflicts.
We were pleased to hear French Prime Minister François Fillon, during the opening ceremony, announcing that France will strongly support the ratification of the UN Watercourses Convention, and urging all countries that have not yet joined the convention to do so quickly. We expect more countries will follow suit this week.
As Mr Fillon said: "We need a positive signal sent out from Marseille to Rio de Janeiro” - a reference to June's UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).
Read the Huffington Post blog post by Rose Timlett from our freshwater team on the 'True cost of water'
Read the new WWF report: 'Water conflict - myth or reality'