• Research

Major UK cities trail rest of Europe for water efficiency

London, Birmingham and Manchester trail a number of major European cities when it comes to water efficiency. Improved levels of wastewater recycling and increased water metering are needed to boost our water sustainability.

Richard Bonner

City Executive for Bristol Ask me a question

“Plenty of work is going on to correct these shortcomings, but until we recycle as much water as possible wastage will continue to be an issue"

Making sure water is managed in the most efficient possible way will become increasingly important as our cities grow. The index, developed by Arcadis with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), explores this along with the other aspects that make up a robust and healthy waterscape to develop a ranking of 50 global cities.

While UK cities perform relatively well overall – both Birmingham and Manchester feature in the overall top ten – the research finds that, when it comes to efficiency, all three UK cities included in the report trail major international locations such as Berlin, Paris and Madrid. 

However, when it comes to water quality British cities perform strongly. High levels of sanitation and relatively low water pollution see both Birmingham and Manchester outperform all other European cities with the exception of Paris and Brussels when it comes to the cleanliness of their water supplies.

How can water efficiency be improved?

Ensuring a greater amount of wastewater is reused as well as encouraging more households to better manage their consumption through the use of water meters would make a significant difference to improving UK cities’ efficiency.

In the UK, we do not have a history of using water meters in the way that many other countries do. However, when households understand how much they are using, they tend to use less. 

Encouragingly, plenty of work is going on to correct issues such as these – our findings reflect key areas of focus for OFWAT – so it is fair to say that things are improving. 


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Richard Bonner

City Executive for Bristol Ask me a question

Arcadis White paper

Sustainable Cities Water Index

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