Fears rise as water table falls

JUSTIN KING has become the latest business chief to identify water as, potentially, the biggest environmental concern facing the food industry.


“From our point of view, [water] is more important than carbon,” he said at this year’s City Food Lecture


The discussion panel after the Sainsbury’s CEO’s speech at the event was flooded by questions relating to water. Action was required, and on a similar scale to that seen for carbon. King said water was creeping into some corporate agendas but “only pops onto the consumers’ agenda when hosepipe bans are in force”.


Hosepipe bans are one thing, but how about egg timers in the shower? Reports following a drought summit  held by the Government on Monday (20 February) included new initiatives by water companies to send out waterproof egg timers to encourage residents not to linger in the shower.


Speaking before the summit on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman suggested that a hosepipe ban “is more likely this year”.


Following the event she declared that some areas were already officially in drought:

“Drought is already an issue this year with the South East, Anglia and other parts of the UK now officially in drought, and more areas are likely to be affected as we continue to experience a prolonged period of very low rainfall. 


“It is not just the responsibility of Government, water companies and businesses to act against drought. We are asking for the help of everyone by urging them to use less water and to start now.”


While water companies committed to reduce water losses from leakages, the summit also unveiled plans to encourage farmers to set up water abstractor groups and consider on-farm storage.


The latest Environment Agency briefing said parts of Eastern England continue to be drought-affected and would need well above average rainfall over the next few months for groundwater levels to recover.