Policy statement

Water: Drought and Flood

This summer has presented the UK with the hottest and driest summer since 1976, a year well remembered for melting tarmac and long, hot summer’s days.

The UK experienced average temperatures in June of 19.9ºC, the same as in 1976. When this is combined with June being one of the top five driest Junes on record, and with the dry, hot weather having continued throughout July and set to carry on, concern about how the UK can manage ever-decreasing water availability is increasing.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers recommends:

  • All major UK cities to publish research on what their infrastructure needs will be in relation to water. Water is a limited resource – infrastructure for new-build homes and businesses should be designed and developed with increased extreme weather in mind. This should include sustainable urban drainage and grey water recycling in new-build properties, reducing the burden on water treatment works in the summer months and helping to manage extreme rainfall events.
  • UK Government should run a public awareness campaign on the value of water and consequences of our changing climate. This could include actions that householders and businesses need to take to build resilience into their properties, in order to mitigate the impacts caused by poor drainage when periods of dry weather end this year, and in future years.
  • The water industry, with the support of Water UK and the National Infrastructure Committee, creates a forum of water-intensive industries. The forum should produce a water infrastructure sustainability plan for UK industry that combines drought and flood. It is crucial that supply exceeds demand not just by ever increasing production, but instead by mitigating use in a similar way to the electricity grid which has clients on interruptible contracts.



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