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Half of water companies in England are under serious stress in 2021


Did you think that the UK doesn’t have a water issue, given its reputation for a rainy climate? Well, you were wrong!

12 out of the 23 water companies in England are already under ‘serious stress’ in 2021 – i.e. water resources are being or are likely to be exploited to a degree which may result in pressure on the environment or water supplies both now and in future.

Water is also intrinsically linked to energy. Water companies need energy to treat and pump water into homes – Scottish Water is the largest user of electricity in Scotland. Then there’s the energy required to produce hot water at home.

Water used in the home accounts for over half of all freshwater withdrawals in the UK (compared to an average of 11% worldwide). In the UK, agricultural production is often rainfed (or outsourced to other countries), industrial output is low. If we add the “hidden” or “virtual” water, ie - water that has been used to grow the crops that make the food we eat, the beverages we drink and the clothes we wear (for example, one cotton t-shirt has about 2,700 litres of water embedded in its production, which is around 49 baths full of water!); the picture is very different, both in terms of water consumption volumes and industry breakdown.

So start improving your water usage: use less water and heat it less.

Showers are the biggest source of water going down the drain, while we spend billions of pounds heating the water for them.

> Fit water efficient shower and tap heads. Regulated showerheads and tap aerators reduce the flow but don’t compromise on pressure. They maintain the pressure by mixing in air with water to produce a steady, even spray. The type of aerator replacement you buy will depend on the existing tap fitting. A male fitting has the thread on the outside, whereas the female fitting has the thread on the inside. Please check which fitting you have before going out to purchase a replacement.

> Take short showers instead of baths. Spending one minute less in the shower each day will save up to £4 a year off your energy bills, per person. Install a 4-minute timer in your shower! Turn off taps while brushing your teeth or when they’re not in use.

> Harvest rainwater for watering your garden. If you live in Wandsworth, buy subsidized water butts here.

> Install a cistern water displacement device for your toilet (i.e. devices that takes up space in your toilet cistern, and therefore reduces the amount of water in the flush. Don’t do it for dual flush systems though) – and when changing your toilets, upgrade to dual flush. DIY guidance here.

> Support and pressure UK government to implement fully policies relating to the sustainable use of UK water resources (Habitats Directive, Water Framework Directive) and external water resources (UN Convention).

It all adds up.

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