The recent article in Utility Week, “A water efficiency culture must flow through the sector” makes some valuable and fair observations about the responsibility water companies have in managing our precious water resources. But we would be foolish to think that water companies alone can solve this global sustainability challenge.
Our ambitious draft Water Resources Management plan (WRMP) for the East of England sets out how we make the best use of the water we already have, and the changes we need to make to help guard against the impacts of severe droughts and climate change in the future.
As well as garnering views from customers and stakeholders to develop our WRMP, we’ve also worked closely with organisations like the National Infrastructure Commission as well as taking a leading role in the Water UK Long Term Water Resources Planning Framework. This collaborative and robust approach to our water resources planning has ensured we have an ambitious plan which will deliver on Ofwat’s key priorities around cutting leakage, increasing resilience, water efficiency and taking innovative approaches to build resilience such as water transfers – all of which feature strongly in our plan.
The plan represents hundreds of millions of pounds of investment, including £500 million to allow us to move water around our region to where it is needed most in order to build greater resilience into our supply network. £50 million more to cut leakage by a further 23 per cent by 2025 making Anglian Water a world-leader on leakage and working with the big water users in this region to plan for the future. We formed Water Resources East (WRE), which includes agriculture, big industry, water companies and organisations like the Internal Drainage Board to discover how to make best use of the water we have long term.
So we take this responsibility of managing water resources very seriously indeed with rigorous planning and significant investment across our region to plan for the future. But alongside this, customers and house developers also play key roles in helping us collectively overcome this challenge.
The Smarter Drop is Anglian Water’s customer campaign for its Innovation Shop Window. In Newmarket, we are at the frontier of implementing innovating technology and ways of working, using the town as a real life test bed to learn and address a range of water company challenges. Some of the technology being pioneered in the Newmarket includes sustainable drainage schemes, technology that dramatically cuts carbon while dewatering sludge efficiently, low carbon concrete canvas, leakage drones, exemplar data intelligence, plus in-home technologies to help customers save water and money, and much more.
The Smarter Drop has seen intensive engagement with the community on all things water saving. With the support of our customers we have seen a drop in water consumption of 8 per cent between January 2017 and January 2018, with some record lows of 80 litres per person, per day. This demonstrates the tremendous power an individual customer can have on water consumption, providing the right support is offered from companies.
As our population grows, so too does the requirement for new homes and the developers of those homes have an opportunity to set a precedent for a new way of living – a more water efficient way of living.
Water stressed areas have a target of water usage of 110 litres per person, per day. We want to take this one step further so we’re working with local planning authorities to incentivise developers to build homes which help customers save water. With this initiative we have a further stretching target of just 100 litres per person per day. The response to this challenge comes from two areas; improving water efficiency through the installation of different fixtures and fittings in kitchens and bathrooms which use less water, and also by introducing better systems for harvesting rainwater for use in watering the garden and flushing the loo.
Water companies play a key role in caring for and managing supplies of this precious resource, but we shouldn’t underestimate the collective power that our 4 million customers, businesses and new house developers all have in overcoming this global sustainability challenge.