How to use water wisely and help cut climate change
PUBLISHED: 12:21 17 August 2017 | UPDATED: 14:26 17 August 2017
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With a growing population and a changing climate, consumers’ efforts to cut water consumption have never been more important. Tony Wenham discovers how the main supplier, Anglian Water, is doing its bit to help.
We are (or should be) worried about water supplies. In the east of England, irrigation for food production and increasing domestic consumption fuelled by population growth are just two of the pressures on this vital resource.
On average, we each use 145 litres every day: in cups of tea, washing, and baths and showers, but we’re each indirectly responsible for using thousands more – through the production of our food, drink and clothes, for example.
We’re not alone – in fact, we’re extremely lucky compared with other areas of the world where one in 10 people lacks access to safe water and 2.5 billion people don’t have adequate sanitation, pushing water scarcity up the political and environmental agenda, with global demand for water forecast to rise 30pc by 2030.
But, at just 60cm (24in) a year, East Anglia’s average annual rainfall is one-third less than the rest of England – and some areas have a lower annual rainfall than the Middle East. Demand for water is growing too, as the number of new homes in the region is predicted to reach one million by 2035.
Here in the eastern counties, the company supplying some six million customers with this vital resource has adopted an unusual business model – it wants us to use less of its product, promoting its mantra “Love Every Drop”.
Anglian Water chief executive Peter Simpson explains: “Starting with the most basic and vital of natural resources, our business underpins the health and wellbeing of our customers, supports growth and prosperity and helps future-proof it against the challenges of climate change and a growing population.
“We assess our success in encouraging water-efficient behaviour by measuring average water consumption per household. Our target is to reduce average per-household consumption to 305 litres a day by 2019-20. Average consumption last year was 314 litres a day.”
Meters are key to cutting water consumption. Anglian Water says metered customers (80pc of the total) use 30 litres per person per day less water and can also save about £100 a year on their bills.
Over the next five years, the company aims to install 86,000 new meters, upgrade another 412,000 and visit 120,000 customers to offer efficiency tips and install water-saving devices.
This year, Anglian Water installed 13,000 new meters and replaced 70,000 more across Norfolk and Milton Keynes. Metered customers in target areas also receive free water-saving devices such as hosepipe guns, shower adapters, and flush reducers.
“Only a very small percentage of daily usage is consumed as drinking water,” says Anglian Water. “The average person is using 70pc of daily water consumption in personal washing, toilet flushing and hand basin use.
“The remainder goes on dish washing, clothes washing and outdoor use.”
Despite the regional challenges, Anglian Water has a good track record in avoiding hosepipe bans. And, in a bid to save water use in the garden, the company has teamed up with the Royal Horticultural Society to launch “the Potting Shed”, an online resource (www.anglianwater.co.uk/environment/how-you-can-help/using-water-wisely/save-water-in-the-garden).
Some 20,000 free garden kits, containing water-saving gadgets and hints on creating drought-resistant gardens, have also been distributed to customers and 5,000 water butts given away.
Beyond individual households, Anglian Water has also been working to reduce leakage from pipes, with drones and robots introduced in the battle to cut losses. The annual report says: “We have set ourselves the target of bringing down leakage by 10.4pc, 20m litres a day, to 172m litres a day by 2020. This year, we achieved 185m litres a day.”
You can use water wisely while still having fun this summer. Here’s how:
Stay hydrated – leave a jug of tap water in the fridge to cool rather than running the tap to get it cold.
Finished with the paddling pool for the day? Use the water on the flowers instead of filling a watering can with tap water.
Better still, ditch the paddling pool and head to one of the award-winning beaches along our coastline.
Check the local weather forecast; if it’s going to rain tomorrow, don’t water the plants.
Love your brown lawn – leave the sprinkler in the shed, your lawn will soon bounce back and be vibrant and green again.
Get a water butt – it saves water and provides a handy supply if you don’t have an outside tap.
Anglian Water, the region’s main supplier, has been staging a week-long exhibition at The Forum in Norwich which closes tomorrow.
H2OMG is a showcase for the company’s work in maximising the efficient use of water, an opportunity for the public to see how we can all help to safeguard supplies, and a chance to have a say in how we feel about Anglian Water’s service and how it should spend our hard earned bill money in future.
Carolyn Cooksey, head of regulatory customer engagement, said: “What our customers tell us will have an influence on our long term business plan. And the more people that take part, the surer we can be that our plan deals with the issues our customers care about.
“We face a wide range of challenges. The amount of water available remains the same and may even decline.
“So it’s essential we speak to customers to get their opinions to overcome these challenges and protect the environment and keep taps running.”
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