The chief of Britain’s Environment Agency stated this week that people should be “less squeamish” about where their drinking water comes from, as “part of the solution will be to reprocess the water that results from sewage treatment and turn it back into drinking water — perfectly safe and healthy, but not something many people fancy.”
This really is “perfectly safe and healthy, but not something many people fancy,” according to James Bevan, the agency’s chief executive, in a Sunday Times of London editorial.
Bevan’s comments in the Sunday Times went beyond a simple call to action. In the UK, where recent research found that up to 870 pipelines in the area may be illegally releasing raw sewage into rivers, he was careful to convey his concerns about the operations of sewage corporations, which are known for pumping sewage into the ocean.
Moreover, Bevan also outlined the steps the administration would need to take to boost the water supply. “Some of these measures will be unpopular, so future governments will need to show political will,” he wrote.
Governments are looking into measures to improve water supplies as parts of Europe suffer catastrophic droughts, including cleaning wastewater through several purification stages. More severe shortages have been brought on by climate change, and some European nations, notably the United Kingdom, have had exceptionally dry summers.
According to a representative for the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, although recycled water is currently not utilised for drinking water, there are factories in the United Kingdom that purify water and return it to rivers.
In the UK, several businesses are expected to submit plans for recycling wastewater in October. A public consultation will then be held on the proposals in November.
Furthermore, Mr Bevan suggested ways to save water, such as switching to showers from baths, only running the dishwasher and dryer when fully loaded, and being vigilant about fixing leaks as soon as they are identified.
Also, he recommended that people avoid watering grass, and they should use watering cans instead of hoses and purchase a water butt, a large container that collects rainwater, which is more suitable for plants than filtered water.
Water restrictions, including a prohibition on using hoses or sprinklers to water backyard plants, fill swimming pools, or wash cars, went into effect last week in the United Kingdom, which had its driest July on record and below-average rainfall in ten of the previous twelve months.
“We need to treat water as a precious resource, not a free good,” Mr Bevan said.