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28th Aug 2022

Brits need to get used to the idea of drinking recycled toilet water, Environment Agency says

Jack Peat

GLOSSOP, ENGLAND - JULY 21: In this aerial view the bed of the Woodhead reservoir can be seen as Summer water levels become reduced on July 21, 2022 in Glossop, England. Recent high demand for drinking water, record temperatures and reduced rainfall has seen some reservoirs in England at only 62% capacity. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Reprocessing sewage water could become the norm within 20 years 

The head of the Environment Agency has suggested Brits may need to become “less squeamish” about drinking recycled lavatory water in the future.

Writing in the Sunday Times, Sir James Bevan said that reprocessing water from sewage treatment to make it drinkable must form part of conservation efforts – or the UK “will face the threat of shortages in as little as 20 years”.

He describes the process as “perfectly safe and healthy” but acknowledges it’s “not something many people fancy”.

Dry weather has persisted across the Bank Holiday weekend, with London forecasted to be as hot as Lisbon, Portugal.

The 10 areas of England still in drought status remain “very, very dry”, the Met Office said, with a little rain on the cards in the near future.

Despite torrential downpours hitting the UK in August, as of Wednesday, the UK had still had only 46 per cent of the average total rainfall for the month.

The ongoing dry weather has seen drought declared across swathes of England, with parched grass and struggling crops, streams drying up and river, reservoir and aquifer levels low, and hosepipe bans brought in for millions as heatwaves pushed up demand for water.

Forecasters are yet to spot a sustained period of above-average rainfall, which is needed to end the drought.

New research by the Met Office Hadley Centre and commissioned by the Climate Crisis Advisory Group (CCAG) has suggested that the average summer in central Europe by 2100 will be over 4C hotter than in pre-industrial eras.

“The science is clear that extreme weather currently faced across the world is at least in large part a consequence of human-induced climate change,” said Sir David King, chair of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group.

“The data released by the Met Office today shows that, even if countries meet their commitments to reduce emissions they have made so far, the situation is still set to get worse, with weather in Europe predicted to become even more extreme than seen this summer.”

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