As World Water Week 2014 convened in Stockholm, the Environment Agency and the Water Footprint Network launched the results of a pioneering new study of water use in a densely populated region of the UK; the Hertfordshire and North London (HNL) Area.
The findings of the study signal a breakthrough in water management that can be applied worldwide. The study, entitled ‘Water Footprint Assessment for the Hertfordshire and North London Area’, was initiated by the Environment Agency to improve their understanding of the problem of water scarcity and pollution. Availability and pollution of water resources has become a key concern for the Environment Agency, and for governments and businesses worldwide as population growth, changing lifestyle patterns, rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, as well as climate change, place unprecedented pressure on limited water supplies. “The Water Footprint Assessment brought new understanding of the local water resources under the existing regulations and could support joined water abstraction and water quality discharge consents. The results of this assessment can also be used for better communication of the issues of water scarcity and water pollution levels to water providers, water users and the public,” said Debbie Jones, Environment Manager (HNL East),Environment Agency.
Integrating water scarcity and poor water quality through Water Footprint Assessment highlights the contribution of water management to these growing concerns. “By looking at water use in this specific area through the lens of a Water Footprint Assessment, we have unearthed an effective, new and innovative approach to tackling water problems that can be applied worldwide. We have a breakthrough on our hands that can revolutionise the way water is managed and regulated so that global demand is met in a sustainable way,” said Ruth Mathews, Executive Director, Water Footprint Network. The results reveal a more robust framework based on Water Footprint Assessment that could form the basis of future regulations. “We hope this inspires regulatory agencies worldwide to reconsider their approach to assessing how water uses contribute to the ever-increasing issue of water scarcity and recognize the value of regulations based on the grey water footprint (4) in stemming the rapid decline in water quality faced in many river basins,” added Mathews.