Why do we need more water

The South East of England is the driest and most densely populated area in the UK and the limited water resources are already under pressure from social and environmental changes such as the way we now use water, climate change and new laws to protect the environment. We need to plan ahead to make better use of existing sources and find new ways of providing water to ensure there is enough to meet the demands of both existing and new customers.

We need to work with our customers to minimise usage and demand for water.


The amount of water we use each day has risen dramatically as we take more showers and baths and use modern appliances more frequently, such as washing machines and dishwashers.

We are also increasingly living in smaller households, which evidence shows use more water per person than larger households. We have a longer life expectancy and with a growing interest in leisure activities outside and gardening, we have also seen an increase in demand for water, especially during the summer.

As a nation we are using about 10 litres more water a day than a decade ago –   approximately 160 litres a day per person.

Climate Change

Climate Change is a global issue which affects us all. In the UK there are clear signs it is having an impact on rainfall patterns and when and where that rain is falling. Over time this is expected to lead to wetter winters and drier summers, generally also a much greater variability in weather patterns.

We are working to adapt to the demands of climate change, which will involve the need to capture more winter rainfall for use in the summer, and using what we’ve already got more wisely.

View our Climate Change Adaptation Plan

Housing Growth

The South East of England is growing rapidly and the demand for housing has never been greater. There are a number of key growth areas such as Ashford, in Kent, which will lead to an increase in the domestic population supplied across our operating area.

Wherever new homes are built in our supply area, South East Water has a legal duty to plan ahead to ensure  water supplies can  support the growth in homes and population. This can be challenging which is why we are working closely with local planning authorities to ensure it is the most sustainable solutions that are put in place.

Environmental Protection

In the South East region we rely heavily on water from the ground – some 75% of the water we supply supplied is abstracted from underground chalk and sandstone aquifers.

It is likely that the need to further protect and improve our environment will mean that we will have to abstract less water from the ground in future. This is largely as a result of reviews being carried out under new European legislation, such as the Habitats Directive and the Water Framework Directive.

It also means we're looking closely at how we can improve the mix of sources we have in the future e.g. the role that more storage/ desalination and effluent re-use can play in future.