A chalk stream that has run dry in Cambridge. (Credit: Monica Hone).
The areas of England struggling with water stress will be investigated following a consultation.
The Environment Agency is running a consultation on its methods for determining the areas struggling with potential water shortages.
South Cambridgeshire’s MP, Anthony Browne, is urging residents to respond in order to ensure Cambridge is classed as an area of water stress.
Water stress occurs when the demand for water exceeds the available amount during a certain period.
It frequently occurs in areas with low rainfall and high population density or in areas where agricultural or industrial activities are intense.
Though Cambridgeshire’s low-lying areas are often plagued by floods in the winter months, the county’s rivers and streams ironically struggle with low water flow during the summer months, an issue that has been exacerbated by a growing population.
Water companies in areas determined as an area of serious water stress must evaluate the use of compulsory metering, charging all customers for the volume of water used.
This is measured by a water meter on each property. However, metering must be shown to be cost-effective and is presented alongside other options.
Mr Browne has previously raised concerns around the over-abstraction of Cambridgeshire’s waterways, especially chalk streams, which are biodiversity hubs, but are increasingly drying out.
He said: “There is no getting around the fact that South Cambridgeshire is running out of water, and this will only get worse as we continue to build more houses.
“I am asking everyone to engage with this consultation and learn a little more about the current situation.
“Ensuring our area is classed as water-stressed allows the Environment Agency greater scope to work with water companies to tackle this problem. As the extent of our water woes are uncovered, we can start to look at more permanent solutions such as new reservoirs, water-based incentives in land management schemes or even a national water infrastructure programme.
“I will continue to champion this cause – we cannot be left in the position where there is water everywhere else, and not a drop left to drink in Cambridgeshire”
The consultation seeks opinions on the proposed method and provisional results for the determination of areas of water stress and will run until March 11.
The determinations are designed to ensure water can continue to run even in a once-every-500-years drought situation.
The results will go to the environment, farming and rural affairs minister, who makes the final decision as to which areas are in different levels of water stress.
To comment on the consultation click here.
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