UK businesses are being called on to make water-use reduction targets as part of a campaign.
The Love Water campaign, involving environmental groups, charities, water companies and regulators, urges firms to include water and pollution reduction targets in everyday operations and corporate responsibility initiatives.
The Environment Agency (EA), Water UK, the National Farmers' Union and Ofwat are leading the campaign.
Sir James Bevan, chief executive at the EA, said: “Most people agree that water is a precious resource but too often we take it for granted and don’t see how our actions have a direct effect on the local rivers, lakes and beaches we all care about.
“We know that everyone has a duty to preserve and protect water and the campaign will also work with industry, water companies and other regulators in the longer-term to cut down on wastage.”
The project will also encourage the public to take action through water saving projects, beach and river clean-ups, and daily ways to reduce pollution.
It is the first time that such a large group has partnered to work with businesses and consumers to tackle pollution and waste, according to the EA.
Bevan warned earlier this year that "parts of England are at risk of running out of water within 25 years".
Michael Roberts, chief executive at Water UK, said: “The Love Water campaign is a great way to get the public to think about the link between the water we all use and the rivers and lakes that provide it and sustain our environment.
“We all need to take action so that this country does not run out of water in the middle part of this century. Only by working together can we bring about the changes needed to ensure we have a resilient water environment now and in the future.”
Water UK has set plans to reduce leakage in a new programme to protect the environment, which will see 8,000 km of rivers cleaned and improved, said Roberts.
The EA described water companies' efforts to protect the environment as “simply unacceptable” in a report. The report showed that only one of the major water and sewage companies had an environmental performance that met expectations.
The Consumer Council for Water also criticised three water companies – Thames Water, Affinity Water and Hafren Dyfrdwy – last month for not meeting their annual leakage target in 2018-19.
According to a United Nations report on global water development, demand for water is expected to increase until 2050, with a 20-30% increase in water use levels. Agriculture makes up 69% of global water use in a year, with industry accounting for 19% and households 12%.
☛ Want to stay up to date with the news? Sign up to our daily bulletin.