DEFRA warns: act now to plug water shortages

By Mike Stones and Freddie Dawson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Water crisis

FDF's campaign urges food manufacturers to make the most of their liquid assets
FDF's campaign urges food manufacturers to make the most of their liquid assets
Making the most efficient use of water is the focus of both a government White Paper and a new campaign from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

Launching the White Paper, Water for Life​, Caroline Spelman, secretary of state for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), warned that Britain faced a future of water shortages and lasting environmental damage, with some rivers running dry, unless attitudes to water use change.

“Currently we enjoy clean water at the turn of a tap, and watch it drain away without a thought. But parts of England actually have less rainfall per person than many Mediterranean countries,”​ said Spelman.

Major challenges

“Making sure we’ve got enough water for everyone is going to be one of the major challenges this country will have to deal with in the years ahead. With water expected to be less predictable as time goes on, we all have to play our part in ensuring our water supply remains secure,”​ she added.

The White Paper sets out how the government plans to reform the water industry and deregulate water markets to drive economic growth. This will enable “business and public sector customers to negotiate better services from suppliers and cut their costs”, ​according to DEFRA.

It also provides for the removal of barriers that have discouraged new entrants from competing in the water market.

Water firms will be asked to “consider where water trading and interconnecting pipelines could help ensure secure water supplies at a price customers can afford”.

The changes are designed to lead to a more robust and prepared water industry that promotes innovation and growth in the economy, and protects the environment, said DEFRA.

Vital resource

Andrew Kuyk, FDF director of sustainability and competitiveness, said: “The publication of the government’s long-awaited water White Paper confirms the fundamental importance of this vital resource for people’s daily lives, for the environment we inhabit and for present and future economic prosperity.”

The FDF’s Every Last Drop campaign aims to raise food and drink firms' awareness of the impact water stress could have on the longer term sustainability of their businesses. It also seeks to offer practical, easily accessible guidance on how business can become more water efficient.

Inder Poonaji, chair of the FDF’s water group and Nestle UK’s head of safety, health and environmental sustainability, said: “This simple guide provides a series of golden rules for food and drink manufacturing businesses of all sizes – tailored to those with boardroom, supply chain and operational roles – on what can be done to save water and manage its use effectively along the supply chain, including individuals at home.”

The FDF campaign is planned to lead up to World Water Day in March 2012.

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