But the South-east – our most densely populated region – gets less rain than some parts of East Africa. Experts say demand will outstrip supply rapidly due to population growth, more household usage and climate change with wetter winters but drier summers. The survey by Love Water, which includes the industry and the Environment Agency, was released yesterday after the wettest February and one of the driest Mays.
Environment Agency chief executive Sir James Bevan said: “People might wonder how a country with such a reputation for rain like the UK could reach a tipping point where demand for water outstrips supply in just 25 years.
“But this may become a reality if we don’t take action to save water now. A convergence of factors underpinned by climate change has led us to this frightening prospect.
“But if we all take concerted action now we can ensure that there will be enough water to go around for generations to come.”
Love Water’s Great British Rain Paradox report says average usage has risen from 18.6 gallons in the 1960s to 31 per person every day.
The South-east is most at risk of tough measures like hosepipe bans.
Water UK’s CEO Christine McGourty said: “It might be a surprise for many people that we have less available water than a lot of other nations.
“The South-east of England actually gets less rainfall than some parts of East Africa.
“Whatever the weather we want to make the most of this vital resource and think carefully about the water we use for now and for future generations.
“Just by making simple changes like turning off the tap when you brush your teeth or taking shorter showers, we can all make a big difference.”
The National Audit Office watchdog has warned that unless action is taken now, parts of the South and South-east will run out of water in the next 20 years.
According to the Committee on Climate Change the total water supply will drop by seven per cent by 2045 because of climate change and pressure to reduce volumes of water taken from rivers. The Love Water survey of 2,000 adults found 77 percent think the UK is a wet and rainy country.
Water usage ranked low on their list of environmental concerns, trailing plastic pollution, energy consumption, food waste and our carbon footprint.
Love Water says we can also reduce demand by not pre-rinsing before loading the dishwasher.
TV presenter Simon Reeve, who has made travel and environmental documentaries, said: “This report should be a wake-up call for everyone in the UK.
“Future water shortages will have wide-reaching consequences on life as we know it, seriously restricting everyday household activities.
“Beyond that, water scarcity is already putting our natural environment under stress with significant impact on freshwater habitats and loss of biodiversity. The global pandemic is a stark demonstration of just how precious water is with hand washing our first line of defence so we need to take action to protect it.”
The water industry is also under pressure to reduce pipe leakage.
Its Discover Water website said between April 2018 and March last year 697 million gallons – the equivalent of 1,268 Olympic swimming pools – leaked from pipes every day.