As our climate changes, our population increases and our lifestyles become more leisure orientated, there is an ever-increasing demand for water.
During the Covid 19 pandemic, millions of people worked from home, with large increases seen in domestic consumption levels as people adjusted to a new way of life. It is fully expected that, as we begin to emerge from the pandemic, the ‘new normal’ will see working from home becoming part of the normal working week.
This change will see demand for water further increasing, and water companies must act – and act now – to ensure they do all they can to encourage water efficiency and reduce per capita consumption levels.
Let’s face it, our water services are cheap. For just a few pounds, domestic customers can have a tonne of high-quality drinking water delivered to their taps, then taken away and cleaned up. But cleaning water comes at a cost – 400gm of carbon for each 1m3, whether that’s making it ready for consumption or to return it to the environment.
Added to that, the fact we are – in many customers eyes – a windswept, rainy island sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, it is difficult to encourage customers to take water conservation seriously.
Whilst ‘smart metering’ and public awareness campaigns can have some impact on domestic consumption, it is unlikely they come anywhere close to reducing the average personal daily consumption of 143l to 110l by 2050, a target set by Defra in March 2020. Our aging infrastructure with multi household supplies are amongst the many factors that ensure that mandated metering – let alone ‘smart metering’ is not likely to be rolled out nationally. Even if it were possible, further interventions would be needed to address the increasing per capita consumption levels.