The burning of fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil have increased the amounts of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. Carbon has also been unlocked by changes in the way man uses the countryside.
The direct consequences of climate change worldwide are small increases in average temperature everywhere but an increased risk of extreme weather events. Scientists believe that sea levels could rise by the end of the century (the year 2100) causing people living by the coast to be at risk of flooding. Hurricanes and other violent storms could happen more often. Droughts, following long periods without rainfall, are likely to happen more often and last longer. In many areas, there will be less water for drinking or to water crops because there will be less rain.
What does this mean for the water industry in the UK?
Changes to summer demand for water in the future will be a challenge as hot spells become more common and people use more water to keep clean and water their gardens. When supplies run low we will be asking you to help us use water sensibly. Also in times of drought, the quality of water in rivers and reservoirs may get worse and require higher levels of treatment which in turn means higher energy use. Companies are looking at different ways to store water during the wet times to use in the dry periods.
For these reasons, Cambridge Water and the other water companies in the UK have long-term goals to change the way we supply water so we can cope with climate change as well as using less carbon ourselves.