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Investing in water

When interviewing The Institute of Sustainability - now BRE – before our first forum, it was claimed that without protecting our water we could descend into medieval conditions within three days of lost supply. So how do we protect our water supply and manage scarcity intelligently?

Smart tech and a holistic approach are called for. In UK cities, water infrastructure is estimated to be worth £400 billion. By 2025, water spending is estimated to top one trillion dollars in OECD countries.

Water UK works with governments, regulators and stakeholders to develop policy on water and the sustainable delivery of water services in the UK. It has the following concerns and observations:

· climate change, bringing more volatile and extreme weather patterns, seen in the last few years as severe droughts, floods, extremes of rainfall and cold weather.

· the growth in the UK population expected to rise by 20 million around 2050.

· water industry operations are relatively intensive, requiring large amounts of energy for pumping, water treatments and waste management.

· in 2011 -12 companies reported emissions of 4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, 6% lower than the previous year (Ofwat)

· tension between the benefits from increased quality standards, which sometimes have questionable environmental benefits and the financial and environmental costs of additional energy-intensive treatment processes.

Read our interview next month on' water and cities' with Tony Rachwal, Director of Research and Innovation at UK Water, who has research more than 50 scientific papers and during his career for Thames Water Authority and RWE Thames Water was responsible for internationally based research teams from London to Adelaide.

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