Over recent decades, water has become an increasingly prominent issue. When we read headlines with the word ‘water’ in them, the word ‘crisis’ is rarely far away.
Water security is defined as having sustained, reliable and safe access to water. Britain’s water resources are facing increasing pressures from rising demand including stronger population growth and supply-side constraints such as more frequent periods of drought. As a result of falling water levels and reduced quality, it is no longer possible to think of water as a permanently abundant and readily available resource.
Electricity generation and public water supply account for 84% of water usage. Water plays an important role in the generation of electricity. In power plants, it is boiled and then used to spin turbines as steam and has an important role in the cooling process.
The main challenge is scarcity, where the resources are over-licensed and there is significant over abstraction (water being taken out) in many basins. There is also a lot of uncertainty in regards to changes in climate, population and policy changes.
A potential answer to this problem is to let it become market driven i.e. become a traded commodity. Moving water into the same realm as power, gas, oil etc. would encourage companies to move water from areas where it is plentiful to those where it is scarce to reduce the impact abstractions have on the environment.
It would encourage large users to consider the value of water and their environmental impact in their decisions on where to locate their business. By putting a price on the value of water in different areas and at different times, leads to a more efficient use of resources and investment.
By offering choice and increasing the incentives for efficiency savings, it would benefit consumers and be more sustainable over the long term.