Seven areas of England are set to be added to an existing list of water stressed locations.
A four-week consultation launched by the Environment Agency aims to determine areas of water stress and identify ways to protect water supplies.
The water company locations, which have been proposed as ‘priority areas’ are Severn Trent Water, South Staffordshire Water, Wessex Water, Portsmouth Water, Cambridge Water, an area of South West Water and the Isles of Scilly.
When an area is classified as water stressed, the water company that serves that area must publish a water resources management plan that involves measures to manage demand more effectively, including metering and greater leakage reduction.
Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said: “Climate change and population growth mean that if we don’t take action now, in around 25 years water demand will exceed availability in many areas. But before we reach that point the first thing to suffer is the natural environment and we are already seeing this happen.”
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “Water is a precious natural resource that we must all value as our supplies come under increasing pressure.
“As a government, we are proposing a legal target on water demand in our forthcoming Environment Bill and working with water companies to reduce leakage, tackle unsustainable abstraction and pollution, and improve their planning for the future.”