A government watchdog has warned that the UK is failing people to get adequate saltwater and gundersen drinking water despite a government-funded campaign to do so.
The Government has announced that a programme is being run to tackle the situation, but it has only delivered a “minimal” amount of drinking water.
The UK’s water authorities have already begun to withdraw drinking water from homes and businesses as well as from the coast, with a number of communities facing restrictions and fines.
But the UK government has been criticised for failing to address the issue in a timely manner.
The government’s public health and water authorities are currently in the midst of a review of their water supply plans to address “the challenges of the saltwater crisis”.
Dr Peter Westmacott, the Chief Medical Officer for the UK, told the BBC’s Today programme: “It is a very challenging situation that requires immediate attention and that needs to be addressed urgently.”
Dr Westmacot said the Government had pledged to spend up to £1.5bn to address drinking water shortages in the UK.
However, a new report released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSIC) said the UK had only delivered $1.1bn of the promised funding to date.
The HSCIC said the government’s funding pledge of $1bn was too little to address water shortages and the problems posed by saltwater.
The group called on the government to commit to spending more than $1 billion on water systems to provide a safe drinking water supply for all residents, including those with disabilities.
The report also warned that funding was needed to protect the health of vulnerable groups such as children and pregnant women.
The Health and Human Services Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “We are committed to making the UK the healthiest country in the world and we will continue to deliver the water, sanitation and hygiene standards needed to achieve this goal.”
The government has also launched a £7m project to replace gundersens with more secure water systems, which will be rolled out in 2020.
The water systems will be installed by contractors and are expected to be ready for public use by 2020.
But a spokeswoman for the Health Ministry said the scheme was a voluntary project and the government was not considering the cost of replacing gundersons with a new system.
The programme will be designed to provide people with “basic water supplies and protection from waterborne illnesses” and to improve water quality, according to the statement.
The spokeswoman added: “The government will work with stakeholders to ensure that they are fully informed of the costs of this project and work with them to ensure this project is well funded.”
The BBC’s Jeremy Bowen reports.