Wasting water needs to become taboo


In Water, Water efficiency, Water poverty, Sustainability, Environment

If you had been watching the news last month you would have seen Sir James Bevan, head of the Environment Agency state that within 25 years, England would not have enough water to meet demand. Talking at the Waterwise Conference in London, Sir James added that wasting water needs to become “as socially unacceptable as blowing smoke in the face of a baby”.

This caused a flurry of headlines, with many shocked at the prediction that a first world country - plagued by rain and surrounded by sea - could be in such a predicament. However, with a rising population and shrinking reserves of fresh water, the threat is very real.

For those working in the industry, it’s old news. We’ve all been aware for decades that attitudes to water and waste need to change. Quite rightly, water companies are under pressure to reduce the wastage in their own supply network, but it doesn’t just land on them. Manufacturers have responded to pressure to produce water saving fittings and appliances, whilst installers have long been required to learn new technology, be at the frontline of encouraging consumers to install water saving devices and to make better use of their plumbing systems. Equally, industry bodies such as the CIPHE, have been tasked with helping installers keep up-to-date with industry advances, advising consumers on water efficiency and advising Government departments on legislation requirements.

The industry is very open to working together to cut water wastage. And now, perhaps after Sir James’ headline grabbing announcement, we’ll also see the language and rhetoric change to encourage (or some may say shock) businesses and consumers into making water saving changes too.

The average person currently uses around 140 litres of water a day and this number needs to reduce to 100 litres to have a meaningful impact on future shortages. The good news is there are many easy steps you can take to bring your own usage down, such as:

  • Take a short shower, rather than a bath.
  • When brushing your teeth, turn off taps in-between rinsing your toothbrush.
  • Always turn taps off tightly, ensuring they are not left dripping.
  • Only use electrical appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines when full. While modern high-end washing machines calculate the load and use water accordingly, the majority of washing machines and nearly all dishwashers will use the same amount of water even when the machine is half-empty.
  • Invest in rainwater butts to catch rainwater that can be used to fill fishponds and water the garden.
  • Swap old and inefficient appliances with new water and energy efficient products. This can include aerated taps and showerheads, just as much as high-end washing machines and dishwashers.
  • Ask your professional plumber to do a system health check. This will ensure your system is working as effectively and efficiently as possible. They can also suggest areas where water saving technology can make a real difference to your water usage and bills.
  • Fix any dripping taps or plumbing leaks.

The last point may seem like a small matter, but did you know a dripping tap can waste 15 litres of water a day if it isn’t rectified? If you have a water meter installed this will certainly push up your bills, so you will be losing money as well as wasting water. If it continues over a long period, for example a year, you could be paying for 5,500 litres of unused water! So you see, saving water isn’t just about helping the future generations, it can also help your bank balance too.

The CIPHE recommend you always use a professional plumber to rectify plumbing problems or perform a system health check. To find one in your area visit our find a plumber tool.