A reliable water supply is fundamental to human health and wellbeing – water availability is already under pressure from factors such as population growth and land-use change. Without adaptation measures, climate change will intensify this pressure, leading to an increase in the demand for water and a reduction in the availability of supplies.

Risks include:

  • reduction in river flows and ground water levels, limiting sustainable abstraction of water
  • limited water supplies, particularly in south-east England and the Midlands
  • failure of the sewage and surface water run-off systems during extreme rainfall events
  • flooding of water industry assets.

Water companies are working to increase resilience to the impacts of climate change – complex interdependencies with other sectors must be understood and addressed to ensure adaptation measures are appropriate.

Research projects

  • ARCC-Water – assessing future water supply systems and adaptation options taking account of environmental sustainability, energy costs and public acceptability (focussed on south and east of England).
  • DOWNPIPE – adaptation of property drainage systems to cope with predicted changes in high-intensity rainfall events with implications for flood management.
  • Liveable Cities – delivering global and societal well-being through radical engineering solutions, while adhering to a low-carbon, resource secure future.
  • MaRIUS – developing a risk-based approach to managing drought and water scarcity in the UK, the project aims to understand drought impacts from household through to institutional level.