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.