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Waterwise has issued a draft long-term strategy for delivering improvement in water efficiency, which includes 10 new objectives to be achieved by 2030.

The group said it has broadened its vision since it last published a water efficiency strategy in 2017 to involve all people, properties and organisations in the UK – not just businesses.

The 10 objectives focus on ensuring water efficiency is visible in all government and regulatory decisions and getting consumers to understand the importance of using water wisely, including through access to timely information about their consumption.

The strategy stressed that water efficiency should be incorporated into all new building developments as well as the retrofitting of homes and workplaces.

Waterwise said putting water efficiency on the agenda of governments and regulators is essential as many specific measures in its strategy are reliant on policy support or regulatory levers. The strategy called for “headline water efficiency commitments” from government in the form of a clear statement or statutory target.

It said national government in the UK should provide evidence to show how they are bringing forward policies to support demand reduction and establish independent groups to advise ministers on whether progress is sufficient or what improvements are required.

Waterwise chief executive Nicci Russell explained there is an urgent need to reduce demand for water. “Not just in homes”, she said, “but across all of society – and we need to see leadership and action to step up to this challenge.

“Let’s not forget, water use was rising even before Covid hit, despite lofty ambitions to bring it down. We want to see water efficiency actions hand-in hand with the climate crisis – net zero and climate change mitigation and adaptation.”

Furthermore, Waterwise called on regulators to move “from words to deeds” by prioritising water efficiency, not only in strategic narratives, but also in regulatory frameworks and cost delivery incentives.
The strategy highlighted smart metering as crucial to meeting the objectives by capturing data on consumption and leakage that can be used by consumers to help them save water.

It focuses on the need for better education around the value of water – something that campaigns have worked to underline in recent years. Waterwise said this needs to be a regular part of education in schools, colleges, workplaces and communities, rather than “a one lesson and done approach”. It should move away from current narratives about the water cycle that lead people to believe plentiful drinking water falls from the sky.

Educational engagement should go beyond water companies, Waterwise suggested, and said government and local authorities, community and religious groups, and schools and educational organisations should also be involved.

Delivering the strategy, Waterwise said, could save at least 1,500 megalitres of water daily by 2030.

The 10 objectives