Families may have to stop using tap water on the garden and take short showers under radical plans to halve usage.
Industry regulator Ofwat is warning ‘the way we use water needs to change’ not just during a drought.
It has published a draft strategy to protect supplies in the face of climate change and the rising population.
Ofwat wants dramatic changes in how people use and misuse water, a 50 per cent reduction in leaks from the mains and new reservoirs and pipelines to transport water to areas in need.
The average person uses about 140 litres a day, but Government experts believe that needs to fall to 100 litres by 2050 and then 70 litres.
Ofwat said: ‘Planning for a resilient and affordable water supply is not yet effective.
‘Alongside this, our water consumption per head remains one of the highest in Europe. The way we use water needs to change.’
Calling for urgent action, it adds: ‘The challenges facing the industry such as climate change and population growth involve long-term trends.
‘Their full impact may not be felt in the next five to ten years, but if we do not take action to get ahead of these trends... we will run out of time to find sustainable and affordable solutions.’
The strategy document does not explain how people will be expected to cut their usage.
However, the head of Ofwat, Rachel Fletcher, and boss of the Environment Agency, Sir James Bevan, gave speeches earlier this year spelling out what they want.
Sir James said: ‘Get a low- flush toilet. Take short showers, not deep baths. Get a water efficient washing machine. Only use your dishwasher when it’s full. Turn the tap off when brushing your teeth. Don’t water your lawn.’'
Read more: Families are warned they will have to stop using tap water on the garden and take shorter showers as climate change threatens more droughts
Flashback July 2018 - Hosepipe ban firm loses 133 litres of water in leaks per house a day
'The water company ordering a hosepipe ban on 7m households in the north-west of England has the second-worst record for leaking pipes of any supplier, industry data shows.
The temporary use ban being imposed by United Utilities from 5 August has led to calls for water firms to do more to tackle leakage on their networks.
United Utilities is second only to Thames Water for the amount of water lost en route to households, at 133 litres per property per day, well above the sector’s average of 121 litres.
The amount of water wasted through leaking pipes is almost identical to regional average daily use, which stands at 132 litres per customer.
The company is also the industry’s third-worst performer on the other main measurement, cubic metres of water leaked per kilometre per day.
Tony Juniper, the executive director for advocacy and campaigns at WWF-UK, said: “In the short-term one would hope the water companies, all of them, would be putting more effort into leakage reduction, the promotion of water efficient appliances from dishwashers to showers, and about communicating to consumers.”
He added the hosepipe ban was “another reminder that on climate change we’ve entered the era of consequences”.
United Utilities said it took water wastage seriously, and had 160 inspectors looking for leaks, as well as sniffer dogs and satellites.
“Reducing leaks is a top priority. We have cut leakage by half since the 1990s and are working hard to do even more,” a spokesperson said. The company met its leakage targets for 2016-17.
Around 2,900m litres a day, or 20% of all public water supply, is lost through leaks on suppliers’ networks.'
Read more: Hosepipe ban firm loses 133 litres of water in leaks per house a day