Saturday, July 23, 2011

Climate committee warns UK water sector 'near the edge'

HazardEx (UK): The Committee on Climate Change has warned the Government that the UK water sector is near its limits in coping with climate change in its newly-published second progress report.

The Adaptation Sub-Committee (ASC) said that while the UK is coping now, it is near its limits in some key sectors and could be pushed over the edge by climate change. The Committee said that in the water sector, while only 8% of resource zones in England are currently at risk of a supply shortfall in a severe drought, this could increase to around 45% by 2035 without additional investment. According to the report although UK water supply is resilient to current climate, many aspects are only just coping and the resilience comes at a continued environmental cost. Three of the largest risks to the UK identified by the Government’s National Risk Register are weather-related, namely coastal flooding, inland flooding and severe weather.

The report says that the UK water companies have not yet made any specific investment in climate adaptation to tackle potential shortfalls in water supply. Delay of investment could lead to higher costs in the future or increased risks of water shortages. The Committee says it has identified scope to better manage the gap between supply and demand caused by climate change through the following measures:
  • a greater level of ambition on water efficiency programmes;
  • reforms to the abstraction regime to reflect water scarcity;
  • more robust approaches to factoring climate change uncertainty into long-term investment planning.
The ASC also warned that climate risks did not appear not to be fully incorporated into major strategic decisions on land use planning and investment in water infrastructure. The report says that embedding climate change more fully into decision-making could reduce future adaptation costs, such as building new flood defences and maintaining existing defences, and also ensure that climate risks are appropriately balanced against other risks and benefits....

The Walthamstow reservoirs, shot by ProfDEH, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

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