Water efficiency needs a message as simple to understand and follow as "stay home, save lives", according to the head of the Environment Agency (EA). James Bevan said there were lessons from the Covid-19 crisis in terms of the significant behavioural changes accepted by the public when the urgency of the issue was clearly communicated.
The trade body for the water industry has urged householders to be mindful of their usage at peak times as demand reached its highest ever point amid the continued lockdown and sunny weather. According to data from Water UK, people are currently using an average of 20 per cent more water, with some areas seeing up to a 40 per cent increase.
The driest May for more than a century coupled with the lockdown has seen a dramatic spike in water usage, with one company reporting a 33 per cent increase on an average month and another comparing the effect to serving an extra 400,000 customers.
Water efficiency champion Waterwise has urged the CMA to preserve funding on water efficiency and resilience. It said cuts to programmes were a false economy because billpayers can save money by using less water.
As part of our Mind the Tap series, Utility Week speaks to Hubbub - a charity specialising in persuading people to adopt more sustainable practices – about communicating the water efficiency message. Its chief executive discusses the quandary of how you convince the public to play their part in solving a problem, if they refuse to believe the problem exists in the first place.
To showcase the best practices of community groups engaged with water efficiency programmes, Waterwise has extended its Checkmark scheme. It will target water companies that want to highlight the work they undertake to encourage better water habits to apply for the accreditation.
As part of our Mind the Tap series, consultant Edward Mallam gives his view on why "blanket communications" have so far failed to land the water efficiency message with the public. He argues that water companies must adopt a much more localised approach and involve customers and stakeholders in the conversation.
Homes in Cambridge are being challenged to reduce their water use by 15 litres per person each day as part of a localised and targeted campaign from South Staffs and Cambridge Water company. It will highlight how much water consumers use and where savings can be made by small habit changes.