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Demand for water set to rise sharply.

BUSINESSES, farmers and householders in England have been warned to take steps to become more water-efficient - but the threat is less potent in Wales, say experts.

A report published by the Environment Agency in England warns that climate change and population growth will increase pressures on resources and lead to more droughts.

Demand for water is likely to outstrip supply across the whole of England if the system currently used to manage water is not radically overhauled, says the Agency.

The report also warned that changes in rainfall and increases in temperature could lead to iconic fish species, such as Atlantic salmon and brown trout, being lost and that droughts of 12 to 18 months in duration were likely to become more common in the future.

Asked about the situation on this side of the border, Environment Agency Wales told the Daily Post that care with water consumption was also needed here.

A spokesman for Environment Agency Wales said: "There is no current threat to our supply of water but, in parts of Wales, we are already at or beyond the limit of how much we can take without damaging the environment. We have also seen prolonged periods of dry weather in recent years, and this could be a trend we will see more frequently in the future due to climate change. We have to look closely at our future water use as demands on our rivers could outstrip their ability to supply us.

"Water is not only important as drinking water, but plays a part in food production, used in industry and for recreation. We FUW deputy agricultural have to balance these needs with the needs of the wildlife that our rivers, lakes and waterways support." policy director Rhian Nowell-Phillips The spokesman added that we could all help by looking at how we use water in our daily lives and consider how we can reduce usage.

Rhian Nowell-Phillips, deputy director of agricultural policy for the Farmers Union of Wales said that while possible water shortages were "on the radar" in Wales it was not a matter for great concern at this stage.

"There will be times when there is a lot of pressure on water and farmers are starting to recognise this and looking at ways they can start to collect rainwater, but it's still very early days," she said.

There was little incentive for farmers to put in reservoirs, because of the cost implications, she said. An area of concern long-term would be if patterns were to alter with more rain all in one go and summers becoming drier.

"It won't be economic to irrigate for grass," Ms Nowell-Phillips pointed out, which ultimately could threaten livestock farming. It was not a situation, however, that she anticipated seeing in the foreseeable future.

The English report, The Case For Change, Current And Future Water Availability reported that areas already experiencing water stress, such as the South East of England, would potentially see population increase of 40%, which would make the problem worse.

A second report drawn up with Ofwat found systems used to manage water today would not be able to provide access to secure supplies in the future, while also protecting the environment.

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FUW deputy agricultural policy director Rhian Nowell-Phillips
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 15, 2011
Words:543
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