Water Saving Week: Why water efficiency matters

Jo Dow, Chief Executive, Business Stream

19 May 2020 Reading time: 4 mins

Responding to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic will undoubtedly be the priority for all businesses right now. For us that means ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our teams is at the forefront of our minds, alongside the need to deliver core services for our customers.


Water Saving Week does however provide an opportunity to reflect on another very real issue we all face - climate change. The lockdown has resulted in small glimmers of hope for the planet but the reality is that the challenges around climate change will not simply disappear – if only it were that simple!

Water shortages is just one repercussion of climate change that is fast becoming a real issue for us in the UK. Only two weeks ago the Commons Environmental Audit Committee issued a press release highlighting new data which suggests that the UK’s total available water supply will reduce by 7% by 2045, as a direct result of climate change. And the National Audit Office warned in a recent report that unless action is taken now, parts of the south of England could run out of water within the next 20 years.

Promoting the importance of water efficiency, which is at the very core of Water Saving Week, is one way in which we can all play our part. By using water wisely, we can reduce water wastage and lower our collective carbon footprint, and for businesses there is an added benefit of being able to reduce water and energy bills in the process.

As a water retailer, we have a responsibility to ensure we are doing everything we can to help promote this message and to provide practical support to help our customers to use less water. This has also been a key focus for the Waterwise Retailer Leadership Group, who have been working hard to identify practical steps that will increase the take up of water efficiency measures by non-household customers. There is clearly a growing consensus that more needs to be done in this area and Ofwat and the Environment Agency recently issued an open letter to the CEO’s of Water Companies and Retailers encouraging us all to play our part in helping to deliver significantly improved levels of water efficiency in the non-household retail market. And given that non-household customers account for a third of all the water used by customers in the UK, there is clearly plenty of opportunity to do exactly that!  This is a positive step forward, as by working together in partnership, we will undoubtedly have a much greater positive impact.

Water efficiency may not be a priority for many right now, given the current circumstances, but that will change.  And although COVID-19 is not something anyone would have wished for, by necessity it has encouraged innovation, as we strive to find different ways to do things that we would previously have taken for granted.  By extending this same mindset and approach to the environment, and by placing a strong emphasis on a ‘green recovery’, it should enable us to better prepare for, adapt to, and limit the impacts of climate change.