Is the Northwest heading for a water crunch?

Water recovery and re-use technology could become a key risk management tool for North West businesses as changing weather patterns, population growth and evolving regulation increase the potential for UK plc to face a future ‘water crunch’.


The warning comes from sustainability experts Envirowise and follows research which found that 70% of sustainability specialists consider the threat of dwindling water supplies to be equal to the impact of carbon emissions, while 54% believe the world will run out of water before it runs out of fuel1.

It is predicted that UK groundwater will begin to decrease by 2025, with the overall amount of water available in English and Welsh rivers reducing by 15 per cent by 20502 While the North West has not currently been identified as an area of significant water stress3, businesses locally could still feel the effects of lower availability – not least through companies in their supply chains, who themselves could be vulnerable to water restrictions. In addition, many companies could face changes to licences granted to allow water abstraction as result of the Water Act 20034.

Nick Ward, Envirowise Regional Manager for the North West, said: “Water is set to become one of the most dramatically affected resources as the impact of climate change takes hold, but many businesses are not aware of the steps they can take to mitigate against this risk.


”Companies in the North West should explore practical steps including water saving devices and water recovery and reuse technology such as membrane filtration systems, which enable a large proportion of wastewater to be reused for processes such as heating, cooling and cleaning. This can result in major cost savings through lower mains water and disposal charges, as well as an enhanced environmental reputation with customers and investors.


“Taking such action now could not only pay enormous dividends in future years, it can also lead to short-term benefits. In fact, recent Envirowise research revealed that UK companies could be missing out on combined savings of up to £10 million per day by failing to make changes in this area.”
 

UK businesses which pay income or corporation tax can also claim tax relief on recovery and reuse systems and water saving devices through the Water Technology List (WTL), which is managed by Defra and HM Revenue & Customs in partnership with Envirowise as part of the Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) scheme for water-efficient technology.


Further information on the benefits of reducing water usage is available at http://www.envirowise.gov.uk/, while the WTL can be viewed online at http://www.eca-water.gov.uk/.