Water problems in the UK.

Graham Charles Lear
5 min readAug 14, 2022

It seems incredible that the UK has a water storage problem when our country is one of the wettest countries on earth. Yet it seems we do.

So why do we have this problem?

Research shows 2,092 large raised reservoirs (statutory reservoirs) in England. Reservoirs are designed to store the rain that falls during the wetter parts of the year so that there is a continuous water supply for the drier periods. So the 2,092 that we have should be more than enough. So what is the problem?

First, we should look at the population of the UK

The last major public water supply reservoir to be constructed in the UK for water supply purposes was Carsington in 1991, Carsington Water is a reservoir operated by Severn Trent Water located between Wirksworth and Kniveton in Derbyshire, England. Max depth33 m (108 ft) Water volume35,412 ML (28,709-acre⋅ft)It is England’s ninth largest reservoir with a capacity of 35,412 megalitres

Now let's look at the population of the UK in 1991 it was 57.42 million. Now take a look at what it is like today it's now 67.44 Million we now have 10.2 million more people wanting water.

The average person should drink at least 2–2.5 litres of water a day. But drinking water is a tiny fraction of water used in the UK. At home, the average UK person uses 142 litres of water per day and a house of 4 uses around 349 litres per day. And during the COVID-19 lockdown, this value increased in some parts of the UK by 25%, to approximately 175 litres of water per day per person.

Only about 3 to 5% of water use happens at home. About 5% is used by the industry to provide products and services (all business essentially falls under this category). And the rest?

The rest is from agriculture.

That’s approximately 2700 litres of water a day to produce the food you eat and the drinks you drink. This is equivalent to showering 44 times per day. It’s estimated that the UK as a whole uses around 14 billion litres of water per day in total.

Now we have to factor in leaks in the water company's water pipes that run underground it's now estimated that 3.17 billion litres of water are lost daily due to leaks. This loss is the equivalent of 1268 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Yes we do have a big problem

So how do we address the situation?

The answer is twofold.

First, the water companies should build at least five more reservoirs, and government should make sure they are built by legislation.

Secondly, the water companies should again by legislation be made to find and repair every leak no matter how much it costs.

But where should these new reservoirs be situated?

In my humble opinion, they should be situated quite close to rivers that overflow their banks or are prone to flooding areas within ten miles

A massive investment program is imperative if we are to maintain our standard of living.

Those rivers could have locks on them that are closed and then opened to feed the new reservoirs the moment heavy rain falls which happens every year. To get the water to them there should be concrete waterways. Or Canals with waterproof membranes. The new reservoirs can also be made with waterproof membranes

In England alone, we have deep natural lakes in the lake district which could be used to get water to the old reservoirs, again by building canals to take the water from the lakes to the reservoirs.

From the North where the lakes are there could be a network of new canals that runs from the North right down to the South crisscrossing to the East of the country linked again by new canals with locks that could be opened and closed at river points when needed.

It will cost billions to do this, however, if we dont we are going to regret not doing it. The money saved in not having flooding will be a godsend

The last time several significant storms struck in quick succession was in December 2015, when storms Desmond, Eva and Frank caused damage to the cost of £1.3bn.

It also put the cost of flooding in parts of south Yorkshire and the Midlands in November last year at more than £110m, and the bill to clean up after storms Dennis and Ciara is set to total more than £360m, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said.



Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.