Architects and urban designers must help plug water shortages before it’s too late

Asif Din of Perkins and Will

Even the UK is heading for a terrifyingly dry future and we need to change the way we design now, says Asif Din of Perkins & Will

When it comes to the effects of climate change, there is a lot to consider. And while rising sea levels, melting Siberian permafrost and record-breaking carbon emissions are the most consistent headline grabbers, there is a whole host of challenges and risks that are yet to feature in the way we design, plan and build cities in a warming world.

One of the many challenges is the shortage of fresh water, which is growing in severity even here in the UK. In total, only 0.007% of the planet’s water is fresh and accessible to support the growing global population, and of that small percentage only a fraction is actually used for human consumption.

The head of the Environment Agency, James Bevan, addressed this year’s Waterwise conference in frank terms, suggesting that England will not have enough water to meet demand within the next 25 years. According to research conducted by the Environment Agency, climate change – through lack of rainfall in the summer months – and population growth will heavily impact England’s water supply availability and could leave the country clambering to escape “the jaws of death”.

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