This infographic looks at some of the most amazing facts about water quality in the UK.

If you’ve ever wondered about water quality, water usage and environmental issues relating to water in Britain, this graphic provides a handy at-a-glance overview.

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Amazing Water Facts UK

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The Full Facts

  1. 36% of Households in the UK (excluding Northern Ireland) have water classed as ‘hard’ or ‘very hard’
  2. The UK’s drinking water is considered one of the safest in the world. The 2018 report on public water supply compliance with the EU Drinking Water Directive was 99.95%
  3. Around 5.8 million people in different parts of England are supplied with artificially fluoridated water.
  4. Plastic microfibers have been found to contaminate 72% of tap water samples in European nations, including the UK.
  5. Pharmaceutical compounds including anti-depressants and oestrogen from birth control pills have been found in UK tap water but only at very tiny concentrations.
  6. Rainfall is the primary source for public water supplied in the UK. There are three categories of source water: groundwater, upland catchment water and lowland river water.
  7. The average person in the UK uses 141 litres of water per day for daily tasks including drinking, washing and cleaning.
  8. Just 1.6mm of limescale in a heating system causes a 12% loss in heat transfer, reducing efficiency and resulting in higher energy bills.
  9. There are about 140,000 private water supplies in the UK including wells, boreholes, springs, lakes, rivers or streams.
  10. Loch Ness in Scotland holds an estimated 263 billion cubic feet of water, which is more than all the water in all the lakes, rivers and reservoirs in the whole of England and Wales combined.
  11. Showers are the biggest water user in UK households (25%), followed by lavatories (22%).
  12. On average, 16% of a UK household’s energy bill is from water-using activities. This equates to around £228 of the typical respondent’s combined energy bill.
  13. England is facing water supply shortages by 2050 unless rapid action is taken to curb water use and wastage.
  14. Population growth, climate change, emerging chemicals, plastic pollution, nano-particles and fracking all present potential future threats to water quality in the UK.
  15. In the UK, due to climate change, it is expected that Summers are likely to get hotter, with significantly increasing demand for water and an increased risk of droughts.
  16. Agriculture is now the largest sector responsible for significant pollution events to water. The number of serious water pollution incidents from water companies is about 60 incidents each year.
  17. Flushing wipes, such as baby wipes, into the waste water network can be attributed to 93% of the material causing the sewer blockages in the UK.
  18. Pollution from the water industry has reduced by 70% from 1995 to 2018.  Thanks to this, otters are now found in every English county and salmon are returning to rivers.
  19. Of all the CO2 emissions in the UK, 6% are from water use. A massive 89% of this comes from heating water in our homes.
  20. Consumption of bottled water has doubled between 2002 – 2017. This equates to around 7.7 billion plastic water bottles produced in the UK every year.


  2. England & Wales Drinking Water Inspectorate Annual Report
  8. British Water: Hard Water Report
  13. Environment Agency Water Resources Report May 2018
  14. Environmental Agency Water Quality Report Feb 2018
  15. Watts, G. and Anderson, M. (eds). (2016) Water climate change impacts report card 2016. Living With Environmental Change
  16. Environmental Agency Water Quality Report Feb 2018
  19. Environment Agency (2008): Greenhouse gas emissions of water supply and demand management options, Science Report – SC070010
  20. House of Commons Report: Environmental Audit Committee Plastic bottles: Turning Back the Plastic Tide, 19th December 2017

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