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Sustainable Water Notes

This is a sample of our (approximately) 16 page long Sustainable Water notes, which we sell as part of the Geography Notes collection, a A* package written at Monmouth Comprehensive School in 2012 that contains (approximately) 135 pages of notes across 10 different documents.

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Sustainable Water Revision

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G4: GEOGRAPHY REVISION Theme 2: Sustainable Water Supply What physical factors determine the supply of water?
Water supply in the UK

• Plentiful supply of surface run-off and precipitation in the North and West of the UK
- Mountains
- Relief rainfall: provides stores such as reservoirs and lakes
- Prevailing winds
- Weather from the West, over the ocean = rain (Golf Stream)

• The South and East are abstracting between 41-72% of groundwater
- Drier, more continental climate
- Doesn't receive Westerly winds
- Flatter
- Relief = less favourable for dam building
- Exploiting permeable rock (such as chalk, limestone and sandstone) to reach artesian wells and aquifers
- Kent = 'bread basket' of the UK

• More than 20% of rainfall is abstracted in South East England = 'water stress'

• South and East England are massively over-extracting water How do human activities influence supply and demand in South East England?
Environmental Agency

• Responsible for the environment in England and Wales

• Monitor water levels in rivers and lakes

• Government department responsible for the Environment Background to water levels

• Significant pressures on water resources across the UK

• Severe across South East and Eastern England
- Highest population density
- Highest domestic water use
- Highest irrigation in Eastern England
= Increased pressure on limited resources Available Water

• The annual average rainfall across England and Wales is 890mm

• This is reduced to an effective rainfall average of 465mm - the rest is lost to evaporation

• Rainfall not evenly distributed across Britain
- Far more rain falling in parts of Wales and the Lake District

• Usually sufficient rainfall to meet the needs of people and wildlife except in extreme periods of dry weather

Using Water

• The Water Exploitation Index (compare the volume of water used with the volume of effective rainfall)

Water resources are considered to be 'under stress' if this index is more than 20%

The average for England and Wales is about 10% = below acceptable levels

South East and Eastern England 22% = 'under stress'

CAMS - Catchment Abstraction Management Strategies

Developed by the Environment Agency


Sees how much water is available and how much is currently being used


Results show that pressures on water resources exist across England and Wales and are not just confined to the South East and Eastern regions

Abstraction Uses:

• The total amount abstracted from all sources in 2006/07 averaged 60,000 megalitres per day

This figure has changed very little in the previous five years but the source of abstraction has changed over that time

Groundwater abstraction = stable - used only for public water supply

In East Anglia, up to 20% of the water abstracted in a typical summer can be for spray irrigation (can rise to 50% on dry days)

Supplying People with Water:

• Less water per person in South East England than in much hotter and drier countries such as Morocco and Egypt

House hold usage varies

Households with meters use less water than those that are unmetered

Metered properties = use 13% less


Over 30% of households now have a meter

Only paying for water they use

Not uniform


Less than 20% of households have a meter in North East England


50%, in areas such as Cornwall, Devon and East Anglia

Supply Demand Balance:

• Total volume of water put into supply = stable over the last 8 years

Amount used by industry and business has slowly declined

In a dry year, there is enough water to meet demand across the whole of England and Wales

Future Pressures:

• Population increase (an extra 10 million people expected by 2031)

Further metering across the country needed

By 2020 80% of households in water stressed areas are expected to have a water meter

Climate change

Higher river flows


Water temperature


Reduce recharge of aquifers

2012: Drought?

Much of Southern and Eastern England in a state of drought

Groundwater levels are lower than in the dry summer of 1976

Hosepipe bans from early spring

The firms have agreed measures to reduce the environmental impact of dry conditions

Reducing water losses


Improving leak detection


Encouraging customers to save water

The Environment Agency will also take steps such as monitoring the impact of the dry weather on fisheries and wildlife

Measures at an individual level (Thames Water's sustainability director)

Turn off taps while cleaning their teeth


Take shorter showers


Fix leaks


Only wash laundry with a full load

Drought contrasts with Scotland, where reservoirs were between 95% full

Ms Spelman - wanted water companies to connect pipe networks to transfer water from wetter areas

Severn Trent's water director said each water company had tended to focus on its own area


Two dry winters


Lack of rain continued


South-east England received just two-thirds of the long-term average rainfall for January


Rainfall below average

 The Colorado River 'The River Colorado (not the longest in the US) is the most dramatic, most used and closer than most basins in the US to using the last drop of available water for man's needs.' National Academy of Science, 1978

Things have only worsened

Great American desert

The Colorado doesn't reach the ocean

Multiple dams

Multiple states are dependent on the water from the river

2025 Water Plan

Background to the Colorado

• South West America

2,300km long

20 dams (storage and electricity)

500ml per year of precipitation in the Rocky Mountains (source)

26th largest river in the US

Cities rely on the river (including Las Vegas, Phoenix, Touson, California and LA)

Last 600km = hardly any natural river (used to reach the sea)

Large part of river runs through the desert (high evaporation levels)

Large amounts of snow melt fuels and feeds the river

Cut the Grand Canyon

Used as a water source for over 2000 years

Supplies the demand of 40 million people

Major dams in 7 US states

Produces 120 million kw of electricity

Irrigates 800,000 hectares of farmland

1928: First dam site chosen (Hoover Dam completed in 1936)

Upper basin

Wyoming Colorado Utah

Lower basin






New Mexico

Lowest flow = 1917 (4.9 km3) Maxest flow = 1984 (25.3km3)

Varying discharge

Value of water = very unreliable

How much water can be taken out?

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