The days of using tap water for gardening and washing the car must end, the official watchdog warned yesterday.
Rachel Fletcher insisted families should switch to other sources, including recycled water from baths and showers and tanks that capture rainfall.
She said only a minority of homes had water butts and this would have to become the norm in future.
The idea of using treated drinking quality water to water our gardens and wash our cars in the 21st century is no longer considered appropriate (stock image)
Miss Fletcher, who is the head of Ofwat, said pressure on supplies was growing because of climate change, population growth and the building of homes in drier areas.
‘We recognise the longer-term challenges,’ she told MPs.
‘We do as a sector need to think about transferring water from one region to another. And we have got to shift the frontier in the technology we are using in delivering water supplies.
Howden dam (in the distance) with dried up reservoir. Water levels in the Derbyshire Peak District have dropped to reveal a landscape close to how it would have looked before the Howden, Derwent and Ladybower dams were built in the early 1900s and 1940s
‘The idea of using treated drinking quality water to water our gardens and wash our cars in the 21st century just doesn’t seem appropriate. As a regulator, it is something we will push the companies to innovate on.
‘We will work with government and other partners to do everything we can to make sure we have secure, affordable and an environmentally friendly approach to delivering future water supplies.’
Miss Fletcher said plans to build thousands of homes between Oxford and Cambridge could put impossible pressure on water supplies, making the case for a national grid.
Very low waters on Howden reservoir in Derbyshire during the hot weather
The Commons environment committee also heard evidence from the head of the Environment Agency, Sir James Bevan. He said water leakage reduction targets set for the big suppliers needed to be much tougher.
Sir James added that climate change threatened future water supplies and he