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Water in the UK

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Water is arguably the most important physical resource as it is the one that is essential to human survival. Understanding the global water cycle and how we use water is essential to planning a sustainable source of water for the future. Globally, there are many areas that do not have enough water to support the current population adequately. Decisions will have to be made on the best way to use water in a world where there is climate change. This free course looks at Water in the UK where water supplies are limited in certain areas, as shown by recent droughts.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • describe how water is used in the UK and the organisation of water supply and sewage responsibilities and legislation
  • explain how the demand for water in England and Wales has changed between 1971 and 2001, recognise the factors involved in predicting future demand including climatic change, and discuss the importance of predictions and their limitations
  • discuss variations in the amounts of water used in different parts of England and Wales, and how water might be used more effectively. Contrast the proportions of surface water and groundwater used for the public water supply in different areas in England and Wales, identify the main aquifers, list the possible schemes for increasing water supply in England and Wales, and discuss their suitability.

By: The Open University

  • Duration 7 hours
  • Updated Wednesday 16th March 2016
  • Intermediate level
  • Posted under Environmental Science
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Water in the UK


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The UK has a great variety of landscapes, land uses and population density, all with differing water availability and requirements. Some areas have a water surplus, some a deficit, but the areas of surplus are unfortunately not usually the areas of greatest water use. Predicting future demand for water has to be done, but has not been accurate in the past. Adding to the complexity is the necessary consideration of what a changing climate will do to water demands.

This OpenLearn course provides a sample of level 2 study in Environment & Development [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

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