WE all need water to live. Yet, according to the United Nations, two-thirds of the world’s population will face water shortages by 2025.

Climate change means water availability is becoming less predictable in many places. Incidence of flooding is increasing here. Floodwater is unsanitary; it contaminates water sources.

Higher temperatures and more extreme weather will affect where rain falls, river flows, snowmelt and groundwater. This further deteriorates water availability and quality. Poorer communities, who are already the most vulnerable to any threats to water supply, are likely to be worst affected.

When the ground dries out, we need gentle rain to soften it so that the rain can penetrate to aquifers, not heavy rain which bounces off the hard, dry ground, causing floods.

Globally, farming uses most of the world’s fresh water. Water-intensive foods include rice, cotton, beef and sugarcane.

Fossil fuel production is highly water intensive, as is biofuel production and shale gas extraction – or ‘fracking’. We need more of the less water-intensive renewable energy technologies, such as hydropower and wind. Geothermal energy has great potential as a long-term, climate independent resource that produces little or no greenhouse gases and does not consume water.

Of the UK countries, the pressure on the supply and cost of water is greatest in England.

Studies show that water meters lead to a 5-15 per cent reduction in water use and in bills. Without meters, most households are not billed on what they use and have no financial incentive to save water. Most households save money when meters are installed.

Since the 1990s, water companies have tried to increase the number of water meters in UK households. The Environment Agency would like to see 75 per cent of households metered by 2025.

The Fairness on Tap coalition (including National Trust, Waterwise, WWF and RSPB) is calling for the government to set out a strategy to install water meters in at least 80 per cent of English homes by 2020.

We can all take steps to save water:

Wash fruit, vegetables and dishes in a bowl in the sink, then use that water on your plants in dry weather; keep a jug of water in the fridge for cool drinks; turn off the tap when brushing teeth; take a shower instead of a bath.

Small moves can make a real difference.