Climate Change and Water Management
It may be obvious to say that as climate change brings changes in temperature, rainfall intensity and patterns and rises in sea-level, the water industry will be heavily impacted. Some of these impacts such as more frequent droughts and floods are relatively easy to see and plan for, while others are harder to predict, for example, changes to peak demand.
Water companies spend billions each year on infrastructure and services, managing more than 16 billion litres of wastewater every day and aiming to ensure that in excess of 99% of all wastewater is recycled into the environment.
Over the last few decades, the water industry has invested billions of pounds, and the environmental quality of our waterways is now better than at any time since the industrial revolution, with streams and rivers teeming with life. However, as the predicted effects of climate change coupled with population growth combine into the future, there are challenges yet to come. This is why more than 40 organisations from across the UK have joined together to create the 21st Century Drainage Programme, which seeks to identify future major drainage risks and to provide options to policy makers.
In the UK, growing demand and the need for increased resilience mean that the pressure to protect and develop water resources has never been greater. In planning to meet customers’ requirements, water companies must balance the needs of supply and demand, ensuring that there is a sufficient water supply while also maintaining adequate water in the environment
Pumping, water treatment and waste management all require large amounts of energy, and in 2010 greenhouse gas emissions from the operational side of the water industry accounted for an estimated 0.7% of all UK emissions (Ofwat, 2010). Although improvements have been made, the overall trend in total energy use continues to rise and to counter this water companies are turning towards renewable energy.
As a significant user of energy, the industry is part of the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme, and it recognises that there is considerable potential for increases in the use of renewable energy sources. This is achieved mainly by investing in Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and by using the anaerobic digestion of sludge to generate biogas.
Catchment Management: Working with Farmers
In addition to the increased utilisation of renewable energy sources, the water industry is also considering the water quality in catchment areas and agricultural Catchment Management. The water supply can be adversely affected by agriculture, with high levels of nitrate and pesticides traditionally needing removal using expensive water treatment plants. It is hoped that by working with farmers to minimise this pollution at the source, costs can be reduced. In response to this issue of Catchment Management, the Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) project run by Natural England in conjunction with the Environment Agency and DEFRA was launched.
Focusing on Catchment Management and supplying farmers in selected areas of England with free training and advice, it aims to raise awareness and to improve the environmental performance of farms. In these selected areas CSF is working with farmers to provide Countryside Stewardship grants, and funding to improve water quality is now included in the Mid-Tier Countryside Stewardship application process. Agricultural nutrient management is also affected by the designation of Nutrient Vulnerable Zones, within which the application and use of nitrogen fertilisers and organic manures are restricted.
Other Grants Available:
Severn Trent Environmental Protection Scheme (STEPS)
Agrismart provides Water Management aimed at providing an ROI of around 36 months. Agrismart’s water management is over 75% self-sustainable. Providing an alternative source of water to mains incorporating rainwater harvesting, zero energy pump, water treatment, water storage and water system installation. Providing your agricultural business with a complete agricultural water management solution and alternative to mains water.