The UK cities that will be under the most water stress by 2040

By Christine Emelone
Monday, 16th May 2022, 9:00 am

New research from Sanctuary Bathrooms, shows that Lancaster is the UK location most likely to be under threat from water stress by 2040, due to a combination of population, climate and water usage habits.

The Lancashire-based city is forecasted to see an ‘extremely high’ increase (80%) in its water stress levels. With individuals using so much water daily, this is likely to be a problem that is going to be widespread for numerous other Brits too, as part of a global issue.

Lancaster will be the worst city for water shortages in the UK

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By 2040, Lancaster is forecasted to see an ‘extremely high’ increase (80%) in its water stress levels, meaning that residents of the city could see a serious public water supply drought.

After Lancaster, London, Brighton and Hove and Leicester are all set to see ‘high’ (40-80%) increases in water stress levels.

Residents in the South and South East of England are more likely to experience a dramatic increase in their water stress levels, due to existing and growing population density, along with associated requirements for housing and property developments. This is as well as changing climate conditions and less rainfall than other areas of the UK.

According to the South East River trust, by 2050, the South East of England will need to find at least an additional one billion litres of water per day to meet demand in the region3.

Predicted water stress increase for UK cities by 2040

CityEstimated increase in water stress by 2040
LancasterExtremely high (>80%)
NorthamptonHigh (40-80%)
PeterboroughHigh (40-80%)
BedfordHigh (40-80%)
CambridgeHigh (40-80%)
ElyHigh (40-80%)
LondonHigh (40-80%)
Brighton & HoveHigh (40-80%)
BirminghamHigh (40-80%)
LeicesterHigh (40-80%)
ManchesterMedium-high (20-40%)
EdinburghMedium-high (20-40%)
LiverpoolMedium-high (20-40%)
GlasgowLow-medium (10-20%)
LeedsLow-medium (10-20%)
SheffieldLow-medium (10-20%)
CardiffLow-medium (10-20%)
Newcastle Upon TyneLow (<10%)
BelfastLow (<10%)

Major UK cities like Manchester, Edinburgh, Liverpool, and Bristol are all predicted to see ‘medium-high’ increases in stress levels by 2040 (20-40%). Whereas Leeds, Glasgow, Sheffield, and Cardiff are predicted to have lower estimated water stress than other UK cities in the next 20 years (10-20 %).

With all areas of the UK expecting to see an increase in their water stress levels, what can people do day-to-day to reduce their water usage? Well, it can all start in the bathroom through activities such as:

  • Taking shorter showers
  • Upgrading your shower head to newer designs
  • Choosing a shower over a bath

To see more info on the future water scarcity in the UK and Europe, click here 

Commenting on the findings, James Roberts, Director at Sanctuary Bathrooms said: “These shocking findings illustrate that the UK could be facing a huge problem with water availability across areas of the country in the coming decades, and our collective usage is going to have a direct impact on future generations to come.

It is vital we raise awareness by highlighting key figures and stats - for example, not many people know that a bath uses 80 litres of water in one go!"