May 25 2013 Latest news:
Norfolk county council signed up to cut the authority's water consumption by 15% to mark World Water Day. From left: Bob Wilson, Ian Monson and Joe Mooney in the old pumping station at Heigham works in Waterworks Road.
By CHRIS HILL, Rural affairs correspondent
Friday, March 22, 2013
Schools across Norfolk will need to make dramatic cuts to their water bills after the county council pledged to reduce its consumption by 15pc during the next four years.
Council chairman Ian Monson signed a document yesterday as part of World Water Day, committing the council to work with Anglian Water (AW) on efficiency and waste-reduction measures.
The authority has investigated 800 of its properties, which were found to be using 659,000 cubic metres of water a year, costing taxpayers £1.7m and representing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions equivalent to 2,700 tonnes.
And with water use in schools representing 77pc of the county council’s consumption, they are seen as the key to meeting the commitments.
The target saving, amounting to 82,000 cubic metres a year, will save the authority up to £284,000 annually, freeing resources which councillors said could be reinvested for economic growth.
Also signing the pledge at the Heigham Water Treatment Works on Waterworks Road in Norwich were Joe Mooney, Norfolk County Council’s deputy cabinet member for environment and Bob Wilson, director of Anglian Water Business.
Mr Wilson said: “The signing of this pledge by Norfolk County Council is a real milestone on the road to a more water conscious, water-efficient economy in our region.
“It is more ground-breaking than you realise. This sort of work is going on everywhere but it is difficult to engage with the public bodies at this level, This kind of work is imperative to the future of the region so linking it all together is very important.”
As well as reducing the council’s carbon footprint and utility bills, the pledge is also aimed at providing opportunities for young people to develop skills that will help them play a full part in the growth of Norfolk’s green economy.
Among the other guests at the signing event were Cherish Watton, who at the age of 19 has set up an eco-consultancy and was closely involved in the design of a Water and Enterprise Programme for schools.
Cherish said Norfolk students were being mentored about the use of cistern devices to reduce the flow of water in a flush and aerators to reduce the pressure from taps – but also to change attitudes about leaving taps running and reporting leaks.
She said: “It was really important that we support these students every step of the way. If you introduce these concepts while children are at school, then once they go into further education or employment they can have this knowledge and implement it in whatever stage of life they go into next.”
Bill Borrett, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “It is too easy to take our clean, safe water supplies for granted, but it is a vital and finite resource that we should be managing much more carefully.
“A great deal will depend upon schools, and the enthusiasm of young people, allied to the simple good sense of reducing waste and saving money that can put to better use, give us every confidence that we will see school water use dropping. The Water and Enterprise Programme is designed to help schools to do this, while also investing in the skills development of talented students.”