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England could run short of water within 25 years

Environment Agency chief calls for use to be cut by a third

England is set to run short of water within 25 years, the chief executive of the Environment Agency has warned.

The country is facing the ‘‘jaws of death”, Sir James Bevan said, at the point where water demand from the country’s rising population surpasses the falling supply resulting from climate change.

However, this could be avoided with ambitious action to cut people’s water use by a third and leakage from water company pipes by 50%, he says, along with big new reservoirs, more desalination plants and transfers of water across the country.

“Around 25 years from now, where those [demand and supply] lines cross is known by some as the ‘jaws of death’ – the point at which we will not have enough water to supply our needs, unless we take action to change things,” Bevan told the Guardian, before a speech on Tuesday at the Waterwise conference in London.

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