Blog Post: Wednesday May 02, 2018

Water efficiency in the South East of England

In September 2016 Water UK published its Water Resources Long Term Planning Framework (2015-2065) report. Using new modelling techniques and a 50-year planning horizon, the report considered the impacts of climate change, population growth, environmental protection measures and water use trends on water availability. It identified that we are facing longer, more frequent droughts and more acute droughts in future than previously thought. Although drought and water scarcity pressures will increase across England and Wales, the South East is particularly affected under a range of scenarios.

The Waterwise Water Efficiency Strategy for the UK sets out a range of actions to respond to these pressures, through increased ambition on water efficiency. The Government’s 25 Year Plan further supports the need for water efficiency (read a blog post on that here).

I attended the ‘Planning future water resources – South East’ regional consultation event on 18 April at Gatwick Airport. This provided a great opportunity to hear from all the companies in one location. In this blog post I summarise the water efficiency elements of their presentations and we encourage others to review the approaches on water efficiency and respond to the individual company plans.

Water Efficiency in WRSE

The Water Resources in the South East Group (WRSE) is an alliance of the six south east water companies, the Environment Agency, Ofwat, Consumer Council for Water, Natural England and Defra, to develop long term plans for securing water supplies in the south east. The Group’s aim is to develop a regional water resources strategy which will contain a range of options to find the best long term solutions for customers and the environment in the south east of England.

For water efficiency and demand management the project has identified the following:

  • 331 demand management options (out of 419 in total)
  • 18Ml/d of demand side options
  • 824 Ml/d of supply side options

The full report FROM SOURCE TO TAP: The south east strategy for water set outs a range of demand options:

  • Installing more meters – evidence shows customers on a meter can use around 16% less water as they become more aware of what they use
  • Helping customers to use less water, permanently, by providing more water
    efficiency advice and devices; and encouraging developers to build more efficient new homes
  • Reducing the amount of water leaks from pipes

Out of the three future scenarios, Future A is the most ambitious on water efficiency, reducing PCC to 110 litres per person per day by 2050. The report recognises the need for improved customer engagement in order to meet this demand reduction, with smart metering along with action from others on building regulations and ensuring new homes are water efficient.

Water efficiency in draft WRMPs

Southern Water

Achievements and ongoing work in PR14

  • Water efficiency support to 120 small businesses and in 156 schools
  • Water efficiency audits for 12,000 homes
  • Water efficiency advice and support for 1,000 vulnerable customers in Brighton and Hove
  • 11.3 million liters of water saved
  • An average 16% reduction in consumption with metering

Plans for WRMP19

  • Target 100 – planning to reduce consumption to 100 litres per person per day

South East Water

Achievements and ongoing work in PR14

  • Reduce household demand by 24 million litres per day, despite 47,000 new homes being built
  • Water consumption reduced from 172 litres per person per day in 2011/12 to 151 litres in 2016/17
  • Award winning water efficiency campaign tested with 22,000 households
  • On track to have 90% of customers metered by 2020

Plans for WRMP19

  • The population covered by South East Water is set to increase by 53 per cent to 3.34
    million by 2080
  • Further leak reduction and water saving measures

SES Water

Achievements and ongoing work in PR14

  • Increase metered customers by 32,000 – from 46% to 60% – including piloting of smart metering
  • Help customers reduce consumption by 3 million litres per day
  • Reach over 53,000 people through our environmental education programme

Plans for WRMP19

  • Increase metered customers to 90% by 2030, rolling-out smart metering to at least 10% by 2025
  • Expand our water efficiency work as part of more diverse and in-depth community engagement

Portsmouth Water

Achievements and ongoing work in PR14

  • Increased the number of water meters
  • Supplied 230,000 water-saving devices

Plans for WRMP19

  • Installing water meters to give customers better information on water use
  • Involve everyone in saving water

Affinity Water

Achievements and ongoing work in PR14

  • 29 Ml/d of savings through their Water Saving Programme
  • 139,709 new AMR meters installed and 64,097 Home Water Efficiency Checks completed since the beginning of AMP6
  • Water efficiency initiatives, e.g. #TapChat and Save Water South East

Plans for WRMP19

  • Metering un-measured non-household customers
  • Adding fast data capability to existing AMR/ network data
  • Fixed network smart metering

Responding to draft WRMPs

It was really interesting to see water companies present on their achievements to date and proposals for water efficiency going forward. The companies in the South East can clearly learn more from each other on the demand side in addition to the work of WRSE on supply side solutions. Areas we’d like to see more information on in final WRMPs and PR19 include:

  • Taking a regional approach to communicating water efficiency and delivering projects
  • Greater use of partnership projects with social housing and other organisations to support delivery of water efficiency
  • Innovation in customer engagement to support resilience (see blog post on the recent freeze/ thaw event)
  • More partnership working with retailer to accurately forecast non-household demand and to implement water efficiency programmes jointly (Waterwise is hosting a Leadership Group with retailers to support this)


Find out more and respond to WRMPs in your area

Southern Water – consultation closing date 28 May

South East Water – consultation closing date 21 May

SES Water – consultation closing date 25 May

Portsmouth Water – consultation closing date 25 May

Affinity Water – consultation closing date 23 May

Keywords: water efficiency > water resources management plan > WRMP > WRSE >