What’s the challenge
Eastern England is home to some of the UK’s most exciting businesses, most beautiful natural sites, most fertile agricultural land and most prestigious academic institutions – and it’s set to grow rapidly over the coming decades. Three of the UK’s five fastest-growing cities, the Thames Gateway and the M11, A11 and M1 growth corridors are all in the Eastern region – making a significant contribution to growth nationally.
But Eastern England has other attributes that make it uniquely vulnerable to water shortage and severe weather events. Nearly 30% of the land mass is below sea level, a huge proportion of the area is used for agricultural production, it’s the driest region in the UK and the East has one of the longest coastlines of any region.
With the increasing risk of drought and the surge in demand for food, energy and services that is likely in future, there is a very real risk that a lack of water could limit growth and development in the East. In the WRE region, which covers 31,000 square kilometres from the Humber in the North to Basildon in the South and Northampton in the West to the Eastern coast, is predicted to face a gap between supply and demand of up to 750 mega litres a day (ML/d) if the region carries managing water resources in the same way – the equivalent of 40 Olympic sized swimming pools daily.