If we don’t take action now, then by 2050 or so we just won’t have enough water for people, business and the environmentSir James Bevan Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Sir James, chief executive of the EA, said: “It’s the government’s target, which the government set in the 25-year environment plan and there are a series of practical things that we can do to hit that target. “For example, you can take a shower, rather than a bath, you can turn off the tap while you brush your teeth, you can make sure you have a full load in your washing machine before you use it.” Asked if people should not use hosepipes, he said: “Each of us need to be responsible in the way we use water.”Asked whether consumers will be penalised financially for using more than their target, Sir James told The Today programme: “A lot of this is about changing the way people think about water and the way they use it so that we start thinking about water not just as something the happens automatically when we turn on the tap, but something that is a precious resource that we all have a responsibility to look after.”There are various ways you can influence how people behave and metering is a really important intervention. We know that if you do meter water, then they will use less of it.” We need to change our attitudes to water use. It is the most fundamental thing needed to ensure a healthy environment but we are taking too much of itEmma Howard Boyd He added: “What really matters is all of us take personal responsibility for an issue we all will face. Climate change and population growth mean that if we don’t take action now, then by 2050 or so we just won’t have enough water for people, business and the environment.”There is a solution to that, which is to reduce demand for water and increase sustainable supply. Part of that is setting sustainable targets for all of us.” Sir James said: “What these measures will need to be is practical and cost effective. It doesn’t have to mean legislation. “It doesn’t have to mean spy cameras in the bathroom. We can do a lot just by changing people’s attitudes and by encouraging the right behaviour.”In England, almost 9,500 billion litres of freshwater were abstracted in 2016, which is enough to cover the whole of Greater London in nearly 6m (20ft) of water – reaching to the eaves of a two storey house, the EA said. Around 55 per cent of water taken from freshwater sources was by utilities to provide public supplies, the EA report said. But three billion litres a day are lost through leaks from pipes, which is about a fifth of the water put into the system, and is equivalent to the amount of water used by more than 20 million people in an average day.England’s population is growing, and is set to rise to 58.5 million by 2026, putting even more stress on water supplies. If no action is taken to reduce demand and increase supplies of water, most areas will not be able to meet demand if climate change is severe and population growth is high, the report said.Even with low growth and less severe changes to the climate, there will be significant water supply deficits by the 2050s, particularly in the South East. Emma Howard Boyd, chairwoman of the EA, said: “We need to change our attitudes to water use. It is the most fundamental thing needed to ensure a healthy environment but we are taking too much of it and have to work together to manage this precious resource.” People should take showers instead of baths, the head of the Environment Agency has said, as he warned of the need for personal water targets.Sir James Bevan also suggested that householders could help avoid water supply shortages by turning the tap off while brushing their teeth and ensuring the washing machine is full before starting a cycle.The Environment Agency (EA) is warning that people need to use less water and companies must curb leaks to prevent future shortages and damage to rivers and wildlife, the Environment Agency has warned.Many sources of water supplies are already overstretched and, with climate change and a growing population, much of England could see significant supply shortages by the 2050s – particularly in the South East.The EA wants people to have a personal water target, as it urged them to use water more wisely.