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New project to help solve problems of UK water shortage

Businesses and landowners will benefit from a new £1.5 million project at the University of Liverpool which aims to alleviate the effects of pollution and low rainfall on water supplies in South East England.

Water resources in the region are subject to acute pressures due to high population density and low rainfall. It is also forecast that the South East is the region most likely to be affected by climate change.

A three-year project, funded by the EU LIFE-Environment programme, will offer free advice and management plans to landowners, businesses and local authorities on how to address issues such as pesticide use, erosion and more efficient water management in preventing continued damage to the water environment.

The South East is the second largest regional economy in the UK after London. The high level of economic activity and employment has attracted workers to the region, leading to an increase in population and high demands for water supply to homes and businesses.

Professor Ed Maltby, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Water, Integrated Management and Ecosystem Research (SWIMMER), said: “The South East has low rainfall relative to other UK regions and less available water per capita than drought-stricken Sudan. Hotter summers will mean even lower river flows and higher demand for garden watering and irrigation, leading to inevitable restrictions by the water providers.

“This new project tackles problems of low water supply by employing the Ecosystem Approach, a methodology to aid decision making which will help achieve sustainable use and conservation of water-dependent natural resources. Our project advisors will work closely with stakeholders to help reduce pollution and advise on strategies for the more efficient use of water. Without these methods in place the cost of water will continue to rise; permanent hosepipe bans may be put in place and stretches of river will dry up, destroying wildlife habitats.”

At the conclusion of the project the team hope to see increased awareness in sustainable water use, improved water quality and provision of habitats in restored wetlands.

Joanna Robotham | alfa
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