Waterwise collected information on drought communication and activities from the seven companies who imposed customer restrictions (‘hosepipe bans’) in the South and East of England during last year’s drought. Working with Water UK and WWF, Waterwise analysed these activities to assess, whether they met their statutory drought duties and whether they had an impact on customer attitudes.
This short paper comments on these drought activities and the wider stakeholder actions on drought. It finds that the companies’ action went beyond their statutory duties and that there was a lot of collaboration and co-operation between companies. It also concludes that the companies did a lot of innovative work and undertook a high degree of stakeholder engagement with a wide range of sectors.
However it also concludes that the work on drought was starting from a very low customer engagement and knowledge base and that more work needs to be done on an on-going basis to communicate with customers about water services in general and water conservation in particular.
It highlights that whilst water companies communicated well, there was a lack of central point of information about the wider drought (in terms of agriculture and environment as well as water supply) which should have been provided by Government and that bodies such as the Met Office and the Research Councils have a wider role to play here. Finally it concludes that there needs to be more collaborative working at all times, not just when there is drought, and that stakeholder engagement on water resources needs to be given a higher priority.