Water is vital to our quality of life – in London we use more than 2.6 billion litres of the stuff every day – that’s enough water to fill the Royal Albert Hall 26 times every day. But we live in the driest part of the country, where there are also the most people. We are therefore working with the water companies that supply our water, treat our sewage and manage our drainage and other partners to ensure that we use the water we have wisely, that we are planning for future challenges and that our water bills are affordable.
“My goal for London is to ensure that it meets the highest environmental standards to preserve and protect our citizens’ quality of life, leading the world in its approach to tackling the challenges of the 21st century. And nowhere is this more vital than in the safeguarding of the capital’s water resources in the face of a steadily growing population, a more competitive global business environment and a changing climate.”
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London
In October 2011, the Mayor published ‘Securing London’s Water Future’ which sets out the water challenges facing London and the actions needed to manage them. Water is also a key element of the Mayor’s 2050 London Infrastructure Plan.
We rely on our rivers for our water
We get most of London’s water from the rivers Thames and Lee. The remainder comes from groundwater that lies underneath London.
During most years we currently have enough water to meet London’s needs. But the climate is changing and our population is growing. Climate projections suggest that our rainfall will become more seasonal – drier summers and wetter winters. This is expected to affect both our supply and demand for water.
Working together to manage London’s water resources
We are working with the water companies, the Environment Agency and other partners to achieve the effective management of London’s existing and future water resources to meet the needs of the growing population while protecting the natural environment. This includes improving water efficiency, reducing leakage and finding new sustainable water sources.
Putting rainwater to good use
Using rainwater rather than let it all go down the drain can help to relieve pressures on the drainage system – reducing flood risk and the demand for treated water. We want people to see rainwater as a valuable resource and not something to be mixed with sewage and got rid of. We are working with Thames Water, the Environment Agency and the London Boroughs on a plan to keep rainwater out of the drains and sewers by keeping it in new green spaces.