A lot of people want to know how the U and U.K. are spending their water.
Is it better, worse or the same?
And how much is being spent on it?
The National Water Quality Assessment (NWPA) is an independent research project run by the UCL Department of Environmental Science and Technology (UCLES) that monitors water quality across the country.
They look at all water supplies and identify those with a high or low risk of environmental impacts such as water pollution, soil erosion, acidification and bacterial growth.
They’ve recently published their first water quality assessment, which includes water quality data from around the country, for the period from 2014 to 2020.
It covers nearly 6,000 drinking water systems in the UK and Canada, and covers the whole of the U-K, including the cities of London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Sheffield and Wolverhampton.
They found that in the period, the total number of cases of waterborne illness was reduced by nearly 80%, the number of water quality-related deaths was reduced 40%, and the total amount of water that was lost to sewage was reduced 20%.
The authors note that the water quality indicators, which can be used by health authorities and businesses to help inform the water supply, are still a work in progress, and that this will continue to change.
The authors say that there are a number of factors that have contributed to the reduction in the number and severity of water-borne illnesses.
One of them is that many water systems are being upgraded, such as by replacing their existing infrastructure with more efficient filtration systems and upgrading to wastewater treatment systems.
But they also note that it’s a long-term trend, and the new systems will probably not be ready to replace the old ones until 2050 at the earliest.
Other factors, such in particular changes in the frequency and duration of rain and snowfall, also contributed to a reduction in cases.
They include improved wastewater treatment facilities and improved sewer systems, which reduce the amount of pollution in the water.
However, there’s still a long way to go, the researchers note.
The authors note, for example, that the prevalence of drinking-water quality indicators has decreased by almost half in a few decades, from about 15% in the early 2000s to around 5% today.
It’s also been estimated that the UK will need to spend £100 billion to prevent water quality impacts from continuing for the next 20 years.
“There are still around 30,000 cases of drinking water-related illnesses per 100,000 people in the United Kingdom,” they write.
“This number is projected to increase to around 60,000 in 2023, which is about 1,400 cases per 100 people.”
“The UK will have to spend over £400 billion to reduce the number [of waterborne illnesses] for the remainder of the decade,” they add.
“Given the severity of these impacts, these investments are crucial to improving the quality of water and to ensuring the UK has the water resources it needs to meet its environmental and economic responsibilities.”
So how are the U, U.k., UK and other countries doing on their water?
Well, it’s not entirely clear.
“There’s a huge amount of data that hasn’t been collected on the water sector,” says John Beaumont, senior water expert at the Ucl Institute of Public Health and Tropical Medicine (IPTGMT), who was not involved in the research.
“But there are some interesting trends.”
Firstly, water quality trends are very uncertain, so it’s impossible to say how well the UK is doing.
“It’s hard to get an absolute level of compliance from a given place and it’s also difficult to get data on the volume of the water system,” Beaumort says.
“We do know that water pollution has increased in many parts of the UK.
We also know that the population has increased, but that hasn.
So it’s very hard to say whether we’re seeing any significant improvements in water quality.”
Another problem is that water quality has been linked to the health of fish and wildlife, so monitoring the water is difficult.
But the UK does have a number other measures in place, such the Pollutant Release Management Plan, which allows the Government to restrict pollution from a specific site, such water treatment plants, to a specific time of day.
“The water quality indicator for the UK in the current assessment period is very low,” Beausont says.
It doesn’t show a reduction, but it’s unlikely that the country will be able to meet the 2030 target of limiting pollution to a single day.
So what’s to be done?
Beaumon says that water systems can’t simply be given a free pass to improve.
“These are very serious environmental problems, and if you don’t do anything about them you’re just going to increase your pollution and you’re not going to reduce it.”