From "The Long read in The Guardian newspaper
At root, there is a cultural problem – of taking water for granted and treating rivers as bottomless waste-disposal units.
In a paper for the thinktank Policy Exchange in 2011, Dr Simon Less, the former director of the water regulator, Ofwat, cited the Environment Agency as reckoning that households in England and Wales collectively are already using between 1.1bn and 3.3bn litres a day more than our water bodies can deliver without being damaged.
The risk here is not that millions of people in Britain are suddenly going to die of thirst. It is that after all those years in which humans settled by rivers and thrived, we are now locked in conflict with our natural surroundings. Either the humans or the rivers have to suffer. At the moment, it is the rivers, although in the longer term a sick river will produce less water, so the humans will end up in trouble as well.