Affinity SOS campaign saves one billion litres of water

Affinity Water’s SOS: Save Our Streams campaign encouraged people to save more than one billion litres of water last summer alone, the company has claimed.

The campaign was designed to engage customers to consider how their water consumption negatively impacts the environment. When it launched last April, the scheme aimed to save 21 megalitres each day as part of Affinity’s demand management programme.

The company made use of AI modelling, which was designed to measure the impact of Covid-19 on demand, to pinpoint the amount of water directly saved by the SOS campaign. Comparable stats in August 2021 and 2020 showed 20.25Ml/d of water a day were saved through campaign activity.

“We have been ambitious from the outset with SOS,” Ed Barnes, Affinity’s interim head of demand management said. “We pushed boundaries to find out what is possible and have not been constrained by the industry’s expectation of what can and cannot be done. Our remit to be brave and bold has steered us throughout the campaign.”

Affinity has one of the highest rates of per capita consumption (PCC) in England and Wales with its 3.6 million customers using 162 litres daily on average compared to national average of 142 lites. Affinity has a PCC reduction target of 12.5% during 2020-25, a goal made more challenging by behavioural change resulting from the coronavirus pandemic that pushed consumption up by around 9%.

Barnes said results from recent reporting show one billion litres were saved during July and August last year, which he explained is equivalent to one peak day of demand.

Gillian Watt, who led the campaign, explained the project aimed for savings ten times higher than previous national campaigns had achieved.

The promotion included a live-streamed stand-up show about water consumption by Sandi Toksvig, a touring giant bathtub and a multimedia campaign across newspapers, radio and online.

She said: “We know that nearly 75% of people that came across the campaign said it has caused them to take some form of action to cut their water-wasting habits. Alongside the huge effort shown by our customers, it has been important for Affinity Water to show joint responsibility through our continuing commitment to river restoration projects, turning off abstraction from the River Chess, articulating corporate ambition around ending unsustainable abstraction and beating our AMP6 leakage target.”

The company is planning 33 projects for the next phase of SOS this summer, which will include a steering group for children and a Minecraft world where young gamers can explore the water cycle and saving water in the home.

Elaine King, chief executive of the Chilterns Conservation Board, which works to protect chalk streams, said: “It’s heartening to know that, once people are aware of the impact of overuse of water, they are willing to use less. Affinity Water is showing the huge difference a water company can make through taking positive action and we look forward to continuing to work in partnership to tackle these important issues.”