What We Do

Water Efficiency Strategy

Climate change and population growth are increasing pressures on water resources in the UK. A recent Water UK report identified that we are facing longer, more frequent droughts – and will face more acute droughts in future than previously thought – right across the UK.

Significant innovation and increased water efficiency have an essential role to play in helping ensure we have enough water for people, the economy and the environment now and in the future.

Water resources are under increasing pressure from climate change, population growth and the need to protect the environment. This has been recognised as we are seeing increasing ambition to reduce per capita consumption by government, regulators and water companies. Waterwise’s Water Efficiency Strategy for the UK has helped drive this ambition and provide the evidence to support policy changes.

The Strategy’s vision is a UK in which all people, homes and businesses are water-efficient. 

This summary provides highlights from Year 1, priorities for year 2 and a summary infographic for several themes of the Strategy. For more information, please read the full Year 1 report (here) and summary report (here).


Highlights from Year 1

During the last year we have seen the impacts of drier weather on the long-term water resources situation as well as resulting in levels of demand for water that haven’t been seen previously. June 2018 was the driest June since 1925, with a rainfall total for England of only 15 mm. In England, United Utilities applied for a hosepipe ban, then called it off. In Northern Ireland a hosepipe ban was implemented for three weeks. In Scotland, the sustained dry weather and heatwave conditions in 2018 resulted in less water availability and an increase in customer demand. Some of the key outcomes from the Strategy in Year 1 include:

  • Reviewing per capita consumption (PCC) and water efficiency options in draft Water Resource Management Plans and providing evidence to support a PCC target in England
  • Leadership Group on Water Efficiency and Customer Participation driving top-down buy-in to water efficiency in water companies and supporting national research on segmentation along with individual water companies trialling innovative behaviour change approaches
  • For Waterwise cities, Strategy Steering Group members have researched design vs actual water use for new homes and provided evidence to government on changes needed in building regulations
  • For products and labelling the ‘Independent review of the costs and benefits of water labelling options in the UK’ has been a major evidence project demonstrating the potentially significant impact of effective labelling, building regulations and product standards on PCC
  • Under water company delivery and regulation we have seen successful pilots of customer incentives to reduce water use at the household and community scales as well as delivery of Waterwise training to build capacity across water companies
  • We launched a Retailers Leadership Group for Water Efficiency and reviewed water efficiency services being offered by retailers as well as how wholesaler companies are addressing non-household water efficiency
  • Steering Group members have been moving forward with integrated water management approaches

Our priorities for Year 2

  • We will work to further join up water and energy efficiency across the UK, and work with government and industry on PCC targets
  • We will take forward our ‘Waterwise – How and Why?’ programme for sustained, independent communication on water efficiency to underpin company programmes and campaigns
  • We will undertake evidence research projects to inform policy development in relation to water efficiency in new households and non-households
  • We will continue the work on water efficiency labelling with stakeholders and specifically address the issue of leaky loos
  • We will work with retail and wholesale water companies on water efficiency for non-households and addressing barriers to this as well as developing evidence to support verification and incentive schemes
  • We will undertake evidence research on the costs and benefits of water reuse
  • at the individual building and development scale to support integrated water management.

Read the full 2017 Strategy summary document here and the full Strategy document here.

Water Efficiency Strategy Steering Group

The Water Efficiency Strategy Steering Group works with Waterwise to deliver Waterwise’s Water Efficiency Strategy for the UK and the actions it sets out.

Supported by Water UK and formed in January 2017, the Strategy Steering Group is chaired by Daniel Johns, Anglian Water Executive Director
of Strategic Growth and Resilience. Membership includes water efficiency practitioners from the UK water industry, regulators and government. The Secretariat is provided by Anglian Water.

The Water Efficiency Strategy for the UK was developed and produced by Waterwise. It is both

visionary and pragmatic. Policy, regulatory and practical actions to deliver ambitious water efficiency in innovative ways are at its heart. Waterwise’s thought leadership team continues to drive forward and track the action with governments, regulators, industry, customers and others.

Waterwise worked with partners across the UK water sector to develop the Strategy – and through the Steering Group responsibility for its delivery is also shared. Waterwise is grateful for the continued support of the Water Efficiency Strategy Steering Group, and looks forward to continuing to work with colleagues across the UK to deliver the strategy and actions.

Projects being delivered
by the WEStrategy

Independent Review of Water Labelling

Waterwise are leading a project funded by Defra and the Collaborative Water Efficiency Fund to deliver a key action from the Water Efficiency Strategy for the UK on reviewing water labelling options. The Energy Saving Trust has been chosen as the partner to deliver the research on policy options, cost benefit analysis and a practical way forward. Based on international experience an effective water labelling programme linked to wider building regulations and water efficiency initiatives can significantly help reduce demand for water. This will be needed to help the UK meet ambitious reductions in PCC and important in the context of a new ISO standard being developed for water labelling. Stakeholder engagement will be a key part of the project. Find out more here.

Water Efficiency Strategy for the UK – Annual Review 2018

We have released our Water Efficiency Strategy Year 1 report. The summary provides highlights from Year 1, priorities for year 2 and a summary infographic for several themes of the Strategy. For more information, please read the full Year 1 report (here) and summary report (here).

Water Resources Communication

We developed a mini-site (here) to deliver the actions below from the Waterwise Water Efficiency Strategy for the UK:

  • B10 Trial communication of water demand (i.e. at the city/ region level) for one company or SaveWater SouthEast in the Discover Water portal
  • B11 “Link Water Situation Reporting into the Discover Water Portal Develop an app similar to the Australia Bureau of Meteorology Water Storage app (for South East at least)”

The website collates water situation reports for water companies in the South East of England. We are planning to undertake research with customers to identify what information would help them maintain an awareness of drought and the need to save water.

Water Efficiency and Customer Participation Leadership Group

The Leadership Group on Water Efficiency and Customer Participation is a Waterwise initiative, launched with the UK water industry in June 2017.

Building on work to date, it brings together senior UK water industry leaders in a more ambitious approach to wasting less water – using this to drive a more customer-led culture.

The Leadership Group is chaired by Jean Spencer, Anglian Water Executive Director of Strategic Growth and Resilience, and co-convened by Nicci Russell, Waterwise Managing Director. Membership covers all UK wholesale water companies at Chief Customer Officer, Customer Service Director or Managing Director level. Waterwise acts as Secretariat for the Group.

The Leadership Group offers a new opportunity to involve customers in thinking about their future water services. Motivating people to take action, and empowering communities through rewards, could change the way we think about water, and revolutionise services. Waterwise will challenge and support the sector on ambition and innovation – within individual companies and across the sector.

Find out more here.

Waterwise Retail Leadership Group on Water Efficiency

The Waterwise Retailers Leadership Group for Water Efficiency will aim to support and encourage water retailers to aim higher on water efficiency in Year 2 of the market, building on practice to date – and to broker discussions with other key players on barriers and opportunities through invited slots (for example wholesalers, regulators, government and manufacturers). It will be a sister Group to ​Waterwise’s Leadership Group on Water Efficiency and Customer Participation for Chief Customer Officers of the UK wholesale water companies – an action of Waterwise’s Water Efficiency Strategy​.

Find out more here.

Innovation programmes

Waterwise are working with a number of water company innovation programmes to identify opportunities to deliver against the Water Efficiency Strategy for the UK and high ambitions for reducing PCC.