‘Do Your Bit’ to save water during Anglian Water hosepipe ban
As the region endures its most severe drought for more than a century, the time has come for everyone to take responsibility for saving precious supplies of water. CHRIS HILL reports on the launch of the Evening News' Do You Bit campaign.
On Thursday, a hosepipe ban will be enforced on households in and around Norwich for the first time in 20 years.
It is the inevitable consequence of 18 months of below-average rainfall, draining rivers, aquifers and reservoirs of our precious drinking and washing supplies.
The drought, the worst in living memory, is predicted to worsen into the summer – bringing a watershed moment which we can no longer ignore.
So the Evening News is backing the pleas from utility company bosses and environment officers for everyone to play their part in East Anglia's biggest-ever water-saving drive.
Today, we launch our Do Your Bit campaign to urge all our readers to take responsibility for reducing their own water usage so that there is enough to go around until the rain returns.
It coincides with the launch of Anglian Water's Drop 20 initiative, which explains simple, practical steps that people can take to save 20 litres a day.
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AW hopes everyone can reduce their daily personal use from the current regional average of 145 litres per person, to 125 litres.
It is only a small amount – about two buckets full – but if every individual plays their part it could have a staggering combined impact by reducing the needs of the region by up to 10pc, or 120 million litres every day.
Paul Valleley, AW's director of water services, said: 'Most people don't even realise how much water they use every day, especially in the home and garden.
'People don't deliberately 'waste' water, but every drop that isn't put to good use or saved for later puts more pressure on the available supplies in the environment. We just want to help people do their bit to tackle a problem that is testing all of us.
'This campaign isn't about customers going without, it's about adapting their behaviour to be more water efficient. There couldn't be a more important time to cut 20 litres of unnecessary use out of your life.'
Simple advice on saving water in the home and garden includes washing dishes by hand rather than using a dishwasher (saving 15 litres), spending two minutes less in the shower (saving 16 litres) or using a water butt to recycle rain to water your garden (saving 200 litres).
Household water-saving kits will be available through the Anglian Water website, including a dual-flush convertor for older toilets, as well as other devices to reduce the flow from taps and showers.
AW has also teamed up with the Royal Horticultural Society to launch The Potting Shed, a water-saving resource for gardeners. A free pack can be found at www.anglianwwater.co.uk/thepottingshed which contains water-storing crystals, absorbent matting for baskets and planters, and a guide to drought-tolerant plants.
The water company has urged its customers to help the water-saving efforts by reminding friends and neighbours of the need to observe the hosepipe ban, and by reporting any leaks which they spot in the streets.
AW spokesman Antony Innes said: 'We are working incredibly hard to tackle leakage. We doubled the investment over the winter and employed a further 60 people to fix leaks.
'We are doing everything we can, but we rely on our customers to be our eyes and ears. Some of these leaks are as small as pin pricks and so if people see water in the street we urge them to help us by letting us know.'
Breaching a hosepipe ban is an offence under the Water Industry Act and can carry a fine of up to �1,000. But AW is hoping that its customers will act responsibly, recognising the reasons for the restrictions and observing them without the need for such penalties.
Mr Innes said: 'The penalty is up to �1,000 against people who are regularly flouting the ban. But it is not our intention to fine anybody. We are looking to work with our customers to tackle this the right way and encourage people to be policed by their own conscience.
'If someone does see their neighbour using a hosepipe, and if they have a good relationship with them, they should just have that conversation with them to ask if they are aware of the ban. If our staff see someone doing it, they will act exactly the same way.
'We won't be flying helicopters over people's gardens to spy on them. We are not looking to catch people out. We want to work with our customers, because we are all in this together. It is no-one's fault that it has not rained, but it is something that everyone can play a part in helping with, however small.'
The Environment Agency is anticipating 'a severe drought in spring and summer' in East Anglia, with the last six months the driest since records began in 1921, leaving groundwater, rivers and reservoir levels 'exceptionally low'.
Only a widespread, prolonged deluge of above-average rain will correct the balance, but the Met Office has warned the chances of that happening are 'very low in the forecast'.
?The Evening News is backing AW's water-saving calls through its Do Your Bit campaign. Have you got a water-saving tip? Or is your home a show home for water-saving measures? Perhaps you remember how you managed during the last hosepipe ban? Contact Chris Hill on 01603 693892 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
?For more information, visit www.everyone-drop-20.co.uk.