Blog Post: Tuesday January 23, 2018

Water Efficiency Strategy for the UK: delivering changes in Wales

Pressures on water resources in Wales and how companies are addressing these

A strategic approach to delivering more ambitious water efficiency is needed to help ensure enough water for people, the economy and the environment, now and in the future.

UK expert body Waterwise has launched its Water Efficiency Strategy for the UK. The strategy sets out an ambitious blueprint for a water-efficient UK – where water is used wisely, every day, everywhere, and this helps to tackle the very real challenges of climate change and environmental degradation we face now and in the future.

Waterwise is the leading UK authority on water efficiency and well-known in the sector for driving ambitious actions and innovative thinking on water efficiency. The strategy will help all of us aim high on water efficiency.

It may seem like it rains all the time in Wales, but there are increasing pressures on water resources from climate change, population growth and the need to protect the environment.

Affordability is also a major concern – with both water and fuel poverty issues across Wales.

Research by CCWater in 2016 found that 2/3 of customers in Wales have taken actions on water efficiency, although many reported that they hadn’t received any information to date. The June Wales Water Forum focussed on water efficiency and this blog post outlines current issues and programmes being delivered by water companies, Welsh Government policy, and actions from Waterwise’s Water Efficiency Strategy for the UK that can be delivered specifically in Wales.

The population will likely increase by 200,000 by 2050 to 3.5 million people.

Dwr Cymru Welsh Water (DCWW) is currently consulting on its Water 2050 strategy. It has identified that the population will likely increase by 200,000 by 2050 to 3.5 million people. There are also pressures from an ageing population, changing customer perceptions and service level requirements, and the need to support the Welsh Government carbon reduction target of 80% by 2050 based on 1990 levels. And climate change risk scenarios are uncertain but likely to impact water availability. Around 74,000 customers are struggling to pay their bills. To address these challenges, DCWW has a range of ongoing programmes including:

  • Trialling 250 smart meters in the Grangetown area of Cardiff as part of the EU-funded WISDOM project
  • Implementing smart metering for 3,130 people in Twyn Aberdyfi
  • Delivering welcome packs to customers who’ve chosen to have a meter and to new customers
  • School outreach programmes using data loggers to gather water use information and linking with eco-schools programmes
  • Household audits and retrofits – aiming to reach 5,000 customers
  • Cardiff Bay Waterwise UK Water Efficiency Strategy
  • Severn Trent Water supplies a large portion of Mid Wales and is looking to reduce water use across the company by 25Ml/d by 2020. With a potential deficit in supply of 200Ml/d or around 11% of total demand the company is aiming to be very water-efficient. Programmes to address this deficit include:
  • Auditing and retrofitting 12,000 households in the last year
  • Aiming to engage with 700,000 customers on issues including water efficiency
  • Planning to maintain baseline water efficiency and potentially achieve 50% more from 2019 onwards
  • Providing an incentive to developers (100% infrastructure charge discount) who meet the 110l/p/d enhanced planning requirement
  • Working with social housing providers – supplying devices to retrofit or providing direct retrofit visits
  • Dee Valley Water has less direct pressures on water resources but is actively working to reduce water consumption to support resilience and reduce the need for new supplies in future. Current programmes include:
  • Implementing “DataTap” – a new app to provide customers with water consumption data as well as messages on how they can reduce it
  • Providing water efficiency information to customers linked to fittings and fixtures regulations inspections
  • Working with schools in Key Stages 2 and 3 on water efficiency education

Key actions from Waterwise’s Water Efficiency Strategy for the UK to deliver in Wales

The Welsh Government’s Water Strategy for Wales (2015) sets out a range of actions on water efficiency. These include working with the water companies and other interested parties to encourage and incentivise engagement and action on water usage; challenging perceptions; promoting the benefits of water efficiency; and carrying out further investigation into the costs and benefits of metering.

Waterwise’s Water Efficiency Strategy for the UK sets out a series of actions that will improve evidence and increase the ambition and delivery of water efficiency in Wales – benefitting people, the economy and the environment. Specific actions for Wales include:

  • Reviewing joint water and energy efficiency programme delivery to date
  • Developing an improved understanding of customers in Wales and opportunities to change behaviour and enhance their participation in water cycle management
  • Reviewing implementation of the Welsh Housing Quality Standard guidance for Water and Energy Efficiency
  • Further trialling of innovative water efficiency, using new technologies and customer engagement approaches
  • Understanding opportunities for open data and potential for influencing partnership projects and planning decisions
  • Joining up water efficiency with other water projects in communities, such as on sustainable drainage and flood risk reduction – building on examples like Greener Grangetown

To continue the discussion on water efficiency in Wales, and aim higher on water efficiency together, building on good work to date, Waterwise is working with stakeholders to set up a water efficiency roundtable. We aim to launch this in Autumn 2017. It will link to the Water-UK supported Water Efficiency Strategy Steering Group to enable sharing of knowledge and best practice across the UK – and co-delivery of Waterwise’s Water Efficiency Strategy for the UK.

It’s down to all of us to take action to drive more water efficiency – governments, regulators, water companies, manufacturers, businesses, workplaces, and all of us in our homes and gardens. It’s totally doable if we work together – and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re aiming high in water efficiency, together.

The Water Efficiency Strategy for the UK is a great opportunity to deliver more ambitious water efficiency in partnership – building on work to date.