Met Office analysis suggests that the UK could experience a 1976-style drought every 10 years, and the Environment Agency said that with the population of London and the South East set to grow by 23% by 2035, action should be taken now.
Modelling suggests some river flows could be cut by up to 80% during the summer in the next 40 years as the climate changes, putting more pressure on businesses that rely on taking water from rivers for irrigation.
The chief of the Environment Agency said last year's extreme weather showed the "urgent need" to plan for a "changing climate". Sir Lord Smith said:
The extremes of weather that we saw last year highlight the urgent need to plan for a changing climate.
More of this extreme weather will exacerbate many of problems that we already deal with including flooding and water scarcity, so taking action today to prepare and adapt homes, businesses, agricultural practices and infrastructure is vital.