As we mark World Water Day, many people in Scotland may think that the potential of drought is something more relevant to hotter, drier, and poorer countries. Water scarcity has hit the headlines across the UK this week, and the problem is much closer to home than many Scots may realise.
After the dry summer of 2018, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency recently issued warnings of a high risk of water scarcity in Moray’s coastal catchments over summer 2019. There is also a medium risk of water scarcity for the east coast down to Edinburgh and the Lothians.
In our lifetimes, water is going to become a rarer and scarcer commodity due to climate change and environmental damage. As climate change takes hold, these types of water scarcity events not typically associated with Scotland could become more frequent and more intense.
There may also be a misconception in Scotland that the large volume of water in lochs and rivers means there will never be a risk of water shortage. However, this type of water is not easily accessible given the natural terrain, nor is it of a quality to easily be used without extensive treatment.
In this context, the high volume of water waste in the UK continues to become increasingly unacceptable. Right now, three billion litres of water is lost every day. This is a third of the water taken from the natural environment and is enough to fill more than 1,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools – a truly concerning statistic.
Within households, issues such as dripping taps and leaky toilets can contribute significantly to this water waste. In fact, it has been estimated that 1 in 10 toilets in the UK has leak. Surprisingly, some of the worst culprits are modern style, dual-flush toilets that are poorly installed or use low-quality fittings.
However, it is also crucial that organisations take greater accountability. For years energy efficiency and carbon reduction has taken priority over water. Whilst things have started to change, with many companies actively looking to reduce their water consumption, more can be done to ensure water efficiency is high on the agenda. Efforts to reduce wasted water can be counted towards carbon footprint reduction strategies. Making the water-energy-carbon link is important and something that is often overlooked.
Through monitoring and efficiency measures, there are now simple and cost-effective methods for organisations of all sizes to save both water and money. Wave is proud to have worked with Scottish public and private sector businesses for many years, some of which have managed to cut their water use by 30 to 40 per cent.
The first step is to acknowledge that Scotland isn’t invulnerable when it comes to water scarcity, as the warnings for Moray, Edinburgh and the Lothians demonstrate.
The theme of this year’s World Water Day is ‘Water for All’, which emphasises that as sustainable development progresses, everyone must benefit. Billions of people are still living without safe water across the world, and often have significant challenges in accessing and managing the safe water they need.
This World Water Day, let’s take the issue seriously and think ahead. We all need to challenge ourselves to do our part to help tackle water waste and become a more water efficient society.
Glenn Smith is sales and marketing director, Wave
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