Sir James Bevan, the head of the UK Environment Agency, has said Brits should stop being “squeamish” about drinking sewage water.
Sir James, who has chaired the Environment Agency since 2015, argued that despite being “perfectly safe and healthy,” drinking treated sewage water is “unpopular,” and “not something many people fancy” while writing in The Sunday Times,
As the UK is suffering droughts, mostly in England and Wales following a summer with record breaking heat, he argued that people must “change the way they think about water,” and “treat it as a precious resource, not a free good.”
Drinking water directly from sewage treatment plants would help protect the UK’s water supply, he argued. A number of “toilet-to-tap” systems are already being planned in the UK: by 2030, water could be treated, dumped back into rivers, and then extracted downstream to be processed as drinking water.
In case you were wondering how they would top 'going hungry is a good thing' and 'just wear jumpers'… https://t.co/LvoJGhJK2c
— Jo Maugham (@JolyonMaugham) August 28, 2022
“We need to remember where [water] comes from: when we turn on the tap, what comes out started in a river, lake or aquifer,” Sir James wrote. “The more we take, the more we drain those sources and put stress on nature and wildlife.
“If we are going to get there, we are all going to have to think differently,” he added, arguing that because the measure would be unpopular, “future governments will need to show political will” to force it through.
Britons should be "less squeamish" about drinking reprocessed sewage water, and stop treating the resource as a "free good", the head of the Environment Agency has said https://t.co/INg0pjL6Th
— Sky News (@SkyNews) August 29, 2022
Thames Water first revealed plans for such a system for London back in 2013, suggesting that they could could it in place by 2025. However, response from locals was not enthusiastic, with one saying it was a “step too far,” and that they “definitely” wouldn’t drink “chemically treated sewage.”
Sir James, who said in 2021 that the government should treat the “climate emergency” like the COVID-19 pandemic, noted that people who were concerned about their water usage should restrict their usage in small ways, such as taking showers as opposed to baths, and only running their dishwasher or washing machine at full capacity.
Hosepipe bans and other restrictions have already come into place in a number of English regions due to the droughts, with fines of up to £1,000 for breaking the restrictions. A Telegraph investigation found that no water company has ever issued a fine since they were introduced in 1991.
Valiant News reported last week that scientists have discovered a method to create gummy bears from recycled wind turbine blades, another example of the “circular economy” in action.
A study from the University of Helsinki argued that eating meat grown in a lab and mashed-up bugs would help save the environment. British children have also been fed bugs at school as part of a science experiment.