Water works


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Water Works – green solutions for a blue planet

It’s not just for drinking. Without reliable access to water, all our essential systems – from manufacture to transport to trade – would run aground. Now, policy makers and business leaders are starting to recognize its true value. Innovative ways to curb water waste are attracting investment – and paying it off quickly in energy savings. So which are the most promising solutions? Where are the quick wins? And who stands to profit? The Green Futures Special Edition ‘Water Works’ sounds out the future of our most precious resource.

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Water works

  1. 1. Published by a greenfutures Special Edition WATER for a blue planet Green solutions WORKSPhotos: xxxxx www.greenfutures.org.uk Green Futures October 2012 iii
  2. 2. “Little reason to relax” “We urgently require new ideas” In 1995, Ismail Seralgedin, then Senior Vice the moment at least) plentiful and, in an increasing The challenges facing the water sector similar clarity existed for utilities in other countries, President at the World Bank, suggested that number of instances, are acquiring land in developing around the world are immense. Rapidly water company engineers could quickly evaluate “many of the wars this century were about countries to grow the food that they cannot grow increasing populations and economic development new technology and projects to check whether or oil, but those of the next century will be over for themselves. Saudi Arabia has recognised that in emerging markets mean an ever increasing not they were viable. water”. Has the risk gone away? Or have we just growing wheat in the desert with precious fresh water demand for water, while ageing infrastructures, If we are to solve the massive challenges been lucky? makes no sense, even if paid for by petro dollars. rising energy costs and climate change are having faced by the water sector, we need regulation that What has happened is a growing recognition that The world’s burgeoning cities are already an impact on water utilities worldwide. encourages innovation. We need governments and water can no longer be taken for granted. Like so struggling to provide water (and importantly We urgently require new ideas and new ways regulators to give water a real economic value and many other natural resources, it is now something we sanitation) to the hundreds of millions who need it of doing things. However, in many countries, ensure that the true cost of water is passed on to need to take care of. now, let alone the 2.5 billion extra who will join them incentives for innovation are weak and water consumers and customers, with safeguards for the However you look at it – from the impact in the next 40 years. utilities are slow to adopt new technology. poorest – rather than subsidising it through the tax of increasing global demand for food on water The answer? Efficiency and technology will play Supplying water is a monopoly, so water utilities system and ignoring the environmental costs. This availability, to the impact of over-abstraction for a vital role in enabling us to make the best use of this are either state owned or operate in a regulatory will incentivise solutions that reduce consumption, agriculture or cities on watersheds and ecosystems – precious resource. Leakage wastes vast quantities framework. It is therefore governments, and the such as water recycling or the improvement of the facts are pretty stark, and are provoking a range of water from distribution systems around the world. regulatory incentives that they put in place, that industrial processes. of responses. However, it will require people and policy makers drive innovation – or the lack of it. An additional benefit of giving water an economic Smart companies, alongside their social and to really understand why this matters, and for that The fastest uptake of water-saving technology value is that its price correlates to its availability, Photos: Hemera/thinkstock; Paul Glendell / Alamy carbon footprints, are analysing their supply chains awareness to lead to a combination of regulation, occurs in countries where some of the right varying significantly from one water resource zone to identify their dependence on water. It glows realistic pricing and reduced consumption. incentives for innovation are already in place. For to another. This ensures that incentives are greatest bright red on their risk matrices as a current and Water has not yet proved the spark that instance, i2O’s Advanced Pressure Management in areas where water is most scarce. future threat. Seralgeldin thought it might. But the well-documented solution has been most rapidly implemented in If governments have the courage to allow Ministries of agriculture are looking nervously linkages between food, water, energy, economic countries where water is given an economic value. water utilities to pass on the true cost of water at rainfall predictions to see whether their crops growth and human wellbeing suggest that there is In Malaysia, the largest water provider, SYABAS, to their customers, their appetite for innovation will continue to flourish, against the uncertainty little reason to relax. is now saving 40 million litres per day, thanks to will increase, working with dynamic suppliers and Photo: i2O Water of increasing climate volatility and changing our technology. It was very easy for SYABAS to technology providers to develop solutions to the rainfall patterns. Will Day chairs the non-profit partnership Water and calculate the payback of investing in i2O as they massive problems we face. Nations are looking to source products and Sanitation for the Urban Poor and is Sustainability buy their water for approximately £0.15/m3, which materials from parts of the world where rain is (for Advisor to PwC (UK). reflects the real economic value of the water. If Adam Kingdon is CEO, i2O Water.2 Green Futures October 2012 www.greenfutures.org.uk www.greenfutures.org.uk Green Futures October 2012 3
  3. 3. After the deluge “Water is a hidden service”, says Michael Deane, Executive Director of the US National Association of Water Companies. “People see rainfall, and ask, why should I pay for water? They don’t realise what they’re paying for is pumping, pipes and infrastructure, and that capital is necessary for preserving future resources.”When water flows freely from both the clouds and Despite the low-level of public knowledge, Deane maintains that communicating thethe tap, paying for it can seem unfair. Katherine environmental and public health importance of clean water increases customers’ willingness to useRowland asks how the industry can persuade us resources more efficiently and pay higher rates. Thames Water is doing just that. In partnershipto value this precious resource. with WWF-UK, the local council and the not-for-profit efficiency consultants Waterwise, the utility is taking steps to reduce Swindon’s water use – which, at 164 litres per person per day, is well Last spring when the utility Thames Water above the UK Government’s target of 130 litres. launched a campaign to raise awareness The project, which won the Environment Agency of southeast England’s growing water Chairman’s Award at the 2012 UK Water Efficiency stress, photographers were quick to snap Awards, includes distributing free home Photos: ngram Publishing/thinkstock / istockphoto/thinkstock up pictures of buses, emblazoned with ‘We water-saving devices, as well as educational Photos: istockphoto/thinkstock / istockphoto/thinkstock are in drought’, splashing umbrella-toting outreach to establish explicit connections between passers-by. The irony in these images captures the tap and the region’s valued rivers. It has a widespread conundrum. Despite the impression reduced Swindon’s overall water use by 560,000 of water plenty, the need for conservation and litres per day. efficiency is greater than ever, as rising demand A drought campaign by Thames Water delivered and climate variability place increasing strain on encouraging results. In its first week, over 20,000 groundwater reserves. In the UK and around the people visited its ‘Waterwisely’ website – 15 times world, suppliers are trying to bolster customers’ more than usual – and during May’s hot spell its understanding of local water resources with customers’ water use went down by 100 million campaigns to make it plain that – while many litres. Crucially, independent research revealed Seattle: using less water consider water a human right – its treatment and that, thanks to the campaign, just under 90% of despite a growing population delivery must be paid for. customers understood that there was a water True to the logic that people tend to waste were metered and illegal connections Water and Islam of religious leaders to demonstrate water to human rights and Islamic faith. The what they don’t pay for, Kingdon says were rampant. But under the direction recapture from ablutions in mosques, initiatives of the non-profit Palestinian that low or absent water rates discourage of engineer Ek Sonn Chan, an approach In the Middle East – a region of natural rallying participants to the idea that water Hydrology Group have included the creation efficient use and capital investment in based on charging small fees has not only fresh water scarcity and high population is a divine gift, and that, in the context of of community rainwater catchments and infrastructure: “When you give people free brought clean water 24 hours a day to the growth – authorities have increasingly scarcity, no one is entitled to excessive conservation education, with a special focus water, there’s no incentive to manage it entire city, but lowered costs for the urban come to focus on how culture and religious amounts at another’s expense. Utilities on women who typically provide for and efficiently.” Saudi Arabia – one of the driest poor and improved public health. values affect public perceptions of in Syria have similarly relied on posters manage domestic use. Their programmes nations in the world – offers an extreme However fundamental a need, the resource use. As Naser Faruqui, Director of expressing, “Water is a gift from God, save stress the importance of conservation example, he says. There, the Government cost of water is too much for some. In the Science and Innovation at the International it.” In the Palestinian Territories, against a for the security of Palestine’s future, and supplies water at virtually no charge: UK, Wessex Water is the first to introduce Development Research Centre in Ottawa backdrop of ongoing conflict over access past sticker campaigns have emphasized consumers pay less than 0.03 cents per social tariffs and flexible payment plans, and lead author of the 2001 book, Islam to water and deteriorating resources, that efficient water use is “wajib dini”, or a cubic meter. And yet the associated energy recognising the financial difficulties of and Water Management, explains, Islam conservation efforts have straddled appeals “religious duty”.A right or a privilege? and financial costs of desalinating seawater and pumping it through thousands of some of their customers. Working with agencies such as the Citizens Advice developed in typically arid regions, and so conservation values are deeply engrained inIn 2010, the UN declared water to be kilometres of leaking pipes are staggering. Bureau to assess the level of need, it offers its teachings. “The Qu’ran is explicit abouta human right, and although basic New tariffs and pricing structures, such lower tariffs for those in extreme financial water conservation and management”, saysneeds only account for 1.5% of water as proposals to impose fees for water difficulty, and various plans to help those in Faruqui. “It says that there is a fixed amountconsumption, the issue of how much to used by non-citizens, are a matter of water debt get back on track. in the world and discourages wastefulcharge for water, if at all, is contentious. ongoing debate, but the Government has The business case for this is clear. use.” Murad Bino, Executive Director of the The approach of a government to water acknowledged that free water is not in the “The cost of bad debt, which has been Inter-Islamic Network of Water Resourcesrates, and the latitude it grants suppliers in public’s best interests, because it leads to increasing, gets spread across the whole and Management, sees Islam as a “strongcharging customers, will directly affect the under-investment in infrastructure. customer base”, explains Dan Green instrument for social change”. For more thanefficiency of consumption and delivery. Cambodia, by contrast, illustrates how of Wessex Water. “By building a better a decade, the Network, which operates in Adam Kingdon, CEO of i2O Water – a charging water tariffs can improve water relationship with the people who are 17 Muslim countries, has been working withcompany that provides technology for access for consumers. The government- genuinely struggling to pay, and helping thousands of rural households in Jordan tooptimising the pressure in water distribution owned Phnom Penh Water Supply them to get advice, we actually bring more promote greywater recycling for irrigation,systems – maintains that free water is not Agency was once a decrepit, war-torn money in than if we remained inflexible in linking conservation to Qu’ranic beliefs.actually in the best interests of consumers. system, wherein only 13% of households our payment plans.” The programme draws on the co-operation4 Green Futures October 2012 www.greenfutures.org.uk www.greenfutures.org.uk
  4. 4. Beyond the Big Dry In April of this year, the Australian Government announced the end of its decade-long drought. And while the Big Dry may be over, it’s likely to leave a lasting mark on public commitments to water efficiency. During the drought, national and state governments launched a suite of initiatives to promote long-term improvements in water efficiency, and accelerate the uptake of water-saving technologies and practices. Australia is one of the world’s biggest consumers of water: prior to the drought Australians were using an average of more than 300 litres per day. But with rising rates, restrictions on outdoor use, widespread adoption of water-saving devices, and campaigns to modify behaviour, average use has dropped by more than one-third. In southeast Queensland, local government and utilities worked together to reduce water use among 80,000 “high volume” households – those using 800 or more litres per person per day. They conducted behavioural surveys and worked one-on-one to find ways to make savings, such as installing rain capture bins and switching to low-irrigation lawn covers. After the programme, 45% of households were deemed efficient, with daily usage reduced to 145 litres per person. The Water Corporation of Western Australia’s H2ome scheme enlisted households in a 12-month shortage despite record spring rainfall, and 72% despite regional population and economic growth. bound by national borders, and to encourage a pan- Too wet for wheat: the programme involving personal coaching on efficient understood why. More crucially, 89% said they “The success of our projects is that we don’t European ethos of conservation. While scarcity is a UK is set to be a net use and regular meter readings to keep households on would either continue to use as little water as just give consumers tips on how to save water: global problem, water use and consumer ethics vary importer of the grain this track, and successfully lowered usage by 17-19%. possible or would continue to use less than they we provide them with a ‘why’ message”, says Al widely by region. Campaigns work best when they year, following the most “Australia has gone beyond behaviour change,” did before the drought. Dietemann, who leads SWP. The agency installs target local concerns, says Deane. “People don’t summer rainfall in a century says Andrew Tucker, who before becoming the Water Anglian Water’s area of operations includes free water-saving hardware, and offers educational want to pay for abstract issues like climate change Strategy Manager for the UK Energy Saving Trust, some of the driest parts of England. It also has messages via print, radio and television, in English in their water bill – it’s hard enough to get people to served as an environmental advisor in Australia. one of the country’s fastest growing populations, and the languages of the large East African and First pay for ageing pipes. But they will pay and conserve “There is now a cultural shift in the way people use so it is particularly important for businesses Nations populations. It also engages local leaders when they understand how water issues affect their and view water resources. Having gone through such operating in the region to save water. Bob Wilson, to spread conservation values. “Social marketing own communities.” extreme drought, people aren’t going back to Director, Anglian Water Business explains: “We is much more effective than having utilities preach For Andrew Tucker of the UK’s Energy Saving wasteful practices.” urge our business customers to develop a water change to customers,” adds Dietemann. “We create Trust, it’s also important to help the people see strategy which takes into account all the financial tailored messages that relate to local cultures and the connections between water use and energy Scarcity and environmental costs of using water, including activities in ways that people can understand.” efficiency. Energy saving, he says, has steadily is a global associated energy use and carbon emissions.” They One of the most effective campaigns tied become part of mainstream culture, and consumers problem, but are offered a range of services, including assistance domestic water use to the local watershed, around recognise that simple steps, like switching off lights, in finding and fixing leaks. Through its Love Every which much of the area’s recreational and industrial will be rewarded through lower bills. Water, by water use Drop campaign, the utility also helps customers to activities revolve. In particular, the watershed is contrast, is relatively cheap when compared to other and ethics better understand the value of water. Part of that is home to one of the largest wild salmon runs in services, and rarely metered (in the UK). Although vary widely finding ways to reduce water waste, with the goal of the US, and so the agency used imagery to help prices have been steadily increasing, efficiency reducing daily, domestic use by 20 litres per person. customers see how water use could affect the measures don’t necessarily result in significant cost by region Domestic customers are encouraged to install health of the river and its stocks. savings on the water bill. meters and are offered free water-saving devices. Seattle authorities are hardly alone in making The Trust’s Water Energy Calculator, which has As Andy Brown, Anglian’s Head of Sustainability, appeals to local values. In Texas, among other been adopted by several of the nation’s utilities, Photos: Comstock/thinkstock / Martin Gabriel/Nature Picture Library notes: “The impression of wet weather makes states in the US South, the federally-sponsored helps consumers see how energy and water usage people assume they don’t need to be careful with 40 Gallon Challenge prompts citizens to “take the go hand in hand. It processes personal variables, water use, but once they understand the facts – like pledge to conserve water” for their county and such as home and family size, geographic location, how much water is used for a shower or washing state. In the Middle East, the Jordanian Government and whether the household has a garden and their car – they become much more responsive.” and the Palestinian Hydrology Group have framed swimming pool, to identify where waste is occurring. For the same reasons, plentiful rainfall in the US consumer water saving initiatives in relation to It then generates tailored tips for improved Pacific Northwest could hamper efforts to improve religious emphases on conservation [see box, efficiency. “None of it is rocket science”, says water efficiency. However, current consumption ‘Water and Islam’, p5]. Tucker. “There are clear measures you can take to Photo: istockphoto/thinkstock rates in Washington State are now as low as they The European Commission’s Generation Awake reduce use and improve efficiency. The challenge is were in 1957, thanks to one of the country’s most campaign caters to a younger, more ecologically the broad shift in mindset that makes these actions effective consumer conservation programmes. The savvy cohort, urging citizens to address over- standard practice.” Saving Water Partnership (SWP) for Seattle has consumption with the aid of 3D animation, videos reduced overall water usage by a cumulative total and social media. This project aims to help Katherine Rowland is a journalist specialising in health of 9.56 million gallons per day from 2000 to 2010, consumers understand how water resources are not and environment. She is based in New York.6 Green Futures October 2012 www.greenfutures.org.uk www.greenfutures.org.uk Green Futures October 2012 7
  5. 5. Smarty patented pilot valve and remote controller. Sensors “Using smart systems to actively manage Safe for a swim? placed downstream in the pipe network – at the pressure in a water network has huge advantages”, ‘critical point’ where pressure is lowest – gather says Jacob Tompkins, Managing Director at No one wants to take a dip in dirty water, but data on demand, which is transmitted via the Waterwise, an independent UK based non-profit some public bathing sites can be adversely mobile phone network, together with data from organisation which works to promote waterpipes affected by excessive rainfall, if it causes the PRV controllers, to i2O’s server. Software efficiency and conservation. “[This] isn’t just a wastewater to overflow. In a bid to help is then used to set the PRVs automatically and fit-and-forget approach”, he adds: “It is a tool that its customers make safe choices, Wessex continuously to the optimum pressure, without the can aid in network management, [by providing] Water launched a bathing water notification need for, and costs of, manual interventions. the ability to vary pressures in distinct parts of the system in 2011. This uses Google maps and This way, the whole network can be regulated network in real time.” mobile technology to offer the public real- to ensure not only that customers always receive time information on sewer overflow events. the pressure that they need, but that the pressure Ian Randall is a journalist working at CERN. The company has installed small battery- (and therefore the amount of leakage, risk of bursts powered monitors at 20 coastal and bathing and cost of pumping) is kept to a minimum. ThisIan Randall finds out about a sure sites which the Environment Agency has lowers operating costs, enhances the lifetime of identified as vulnerable to discharge. the pipes and reduces the service disruption toway to reduce leaks and bursts. customers through lengthy repair jobs. As there is rarely mains electricity at the PRV site, i2O developed an innovative pilot valve, which is retrofitted to the PRVs and uses minimum power, supplied either by a local battery or by a micro-turbine inserted into a bypass pipe. The company’s 2010 installation on Veolia’s network in the UK reduced leakage by approximately 15% (around 2.5 million litres of water a day) – while actually improving customer service levels and eliminating customer low-pressure complaints. In addition, Veolia estimated that, due to a reduction in bursts, operating costs fell by as much as 80%. One of i2O’s most successful installations has been in Malaysia, in partnership with the water services company Jalur Cahaya. Here, 205 systems on the Syabas network save 40 million litres of water a day, or 12% of the total volume. In addition, the rate of new pipe bursts has fallen by 40%. “On [zones] with i2O, once we have fixed a leak, it stays fixed,” says Sheikh Mazlan of Smartening up: i2O’s Advanced Pilot Valve Jalur Cahaya. Across the world, millions of litres of water are seeping out from supply networks Most major water networks are divided up into District Metered Areas (DMAs), each covering a few Wave mapping every day before they even reach our taps. thousand homes or buildings. A pressure reducing According to OFWAT, the regulatory body for water and With knowledge of the pipe system, special analytic Replacing pipes is enormously capital intensive, valve (PRV) is usually installed at the inlet of each sewage in England and Wales, the amount of UK water lost methods can be used, on the signals received back at the while digging up the road to fix all of the small DMA. These PRVs are set to a fixed pressure and daily through leaky pipes would be enough to meet the needs origin point of the wave, to map out the locations of these leaks which together add up to big losses is costly are currently adjusted manually by technicians of 10 million additional people. Detecting leaks, however, is a features. Comparison with previous results, therefore, can and disruptive. A cost effective alternative is to visiting site. difficult process. Traditional methods, which use microphones reveal the presence and location of any new leaks in the pipes. optimise the pressure of the water in the pipes, The problem with this approach is that to listen out for the sounds made by water escaping from “The system has delivered some very promising results at keeping it high enough to meet customer needs, the pressure required fluctuates with demand, a pipe, tend to be time-consuming and inaccurate. The Yorkshire Water,” says James Shucksmith, the lecturer in Water but eliminating the excess, which causes leakage throughout any given day and over the course of recent trend towards plastic piping, in which sound rapidly Engineering at the University of Sheffield who led the trial of and bursts. a year. As the PRVs are difficult to adjust, they are attenuates, has not made this easier. the technology. Technology from the UK-based company i2O normally set at the maximum pressure that might A new method, however, has been developed by “We are able to identify the location of leaks much more Photos: istockphoto/thinkstock / Photodisc/thinkstock uses sophisticated software and a network of ever be needed. This means that for the rest of the researchers at the University of Sheffield. This system, accurately and rapidly than existing systems are able to, sensors and controllers to do just this. Its novel time, they are set far too high. which has recently been put into practical application in meaning water companies will be able to save both time and systems are already saving over 75 million litres of The excess pressure increases leakage, which tests with Yorkshire Water, uses pressure waves to explore money in carrying out repairs.” water each day around the world. is proportional to pressure. It also causes additional pipe networks. During the tests, leaks in cast iron pipes were successfully “Leakage is a worldwide problem”, says stress in the pipes leading to bursts and reduces A special valve is fitted to standard water hydrants. pinpointed to within one metre. Tests of plastic piping proved Adam Kingdon, the CEO of i2O. “Optimising the the service life of the pipe. Pumping at too high a Opened and closed quickly, this generates a wave of pressure, even more effective, narrowing the search to within 20cm of pressure in the network seems like a very obvious pressure is also enormously wasteful of energy. which travels down the pipe. Whenever the wave meets a the leak itself. The researchers are currently searching for an thing to do. If you manage the pressure correctly, This waste can be avoided through the use of change in the network (such as a junction, turn or leak) a industrial partner, in order to develop the system for wider, you can reduce both leakage and the number of i2O’s solution, which is both simple and effective. reflection is transmitted back up the pipe. commercial use. Photo: i2O new bursts as well as reducing operating costs So, how does it work? and energy bills.” The company retrofits each PRV with a8 Green Futures October 2012 www.greenfutures.org.uk www.greenfutures.org.uk Green Futures October 2012 9
  6. 6. of householders, though – and it’s their role in water This little piggy conservation that stands to have the much-needed results. Thanks to comprehensive campaigns around For water companies, “the biggest single complaint is the globe, many are stepping up. Australia’s annual discolouration”, says Joe Quarini, a Professor at the University Savewater! Awards – a scheme to recognise water- of Bristol. “Someone opens the tap, pours a glass of water, saving efforts in homes, businesses and schools, holds the glass up to the light and they can see little specks now in its 10th year – has become a highly revered in it.” This harmless discolouration is caused by little bits achievement. of grit and dirt, which can come from the pipe system, and Saving water is just part of the battle, though: collect in it. Quarini has developed a highly flexible system to another is encouraging residents to respect the clean pipes (used for water and other purposes) which can be water system on which they depend. One problem employed quickly and efficiently without the need for harsh is that some use the toilet and sink as general waste chemicals or digging up pipework. disposal units, for anything from kitchen fat to A plug of partially molten ice – similar in composition to Previous pigs were made of foam, and required some work nappies. Wessex Water has launched a free game an iced beverage – is placed into the pipe through a hydrant, to set them off and get them out again. They were also liable for the iPhone called ‘Bag it and bin it’, where the and pushed along by regular water flow. This plug, known as to get stuck, or take a wrong turn – none of which is a problem user has to dispose of waste objects quickly before an “ice pig”, scours the pipes through which it travels. The with ice. According to reports from Aqualogy’s clients, ice they land in the loo – learning what shouldn’t end up pig and the unwanted particulate material it collects can then pigging can remove 20 times as much sediment and biofilm as in there as they play. easily be ejected further down the pipe. can flushing, and is as effective as traditional foam pigs, minus For Marcia Davies of Anglian Water, education As the pig is made primarily of water, it leaves no residue their complications. is one of the most important tools in the box. behind itself – and, should it get stuck, users merely need to Water pipes are far from the only possible use for ice pigs. “Educating people about where water comes from, take a quick break and wait for the pig to melt. In fact, Quarini first envisaged the pig for cleaning pipes in the how it’s cleaned and prepared, how it then re-enters “Ice Pigging offers our clients an innovative, simple, food processing industry: “The applications are limited only by the environment, and the effect that has on the low risk and highly effective technique for cleaning water your imagination,” he says. ‘Beer pigs’, for piping in pubs and ecosystem – creating the ‘bigger picture’ for been found to have large enough leaks to warrant a distribution mains and pumped sewers”, says David Corke, breweries, are planned for the near future. Other uses might them – is key”, she says, “as is making it as simple repair or pipe replacement. a director at Aqualogy, the global company which holds include distributing biocide within plants, in decommissioning as possible to save water.” Out in the garden, solar-powered irrigation the license to use ice pigging in commercial, water based oil rigs, and even cleaning out urinary catheters to reduce the Anglian’s ‘Drop 20’ campaign gives households systems are also becoming more popular. They applications. chance of infection. simple tips to reduce their consumption. One focus require no mains electricity or water supply, instead is the benefit of water metering. The company’s sucking water from a butt (or other non-pressurised Households Water Efficiency Manger, Linda Berkshire, says: water source) and then thoroughly watering plants “Non-metered customers will look at you with horror every three hours with the aid of a solar-powered save an average ofHome help at the prospect of having a meter installed because pump. The device even gives the garden an extra there’s an assumption that it’s more expensive. But helping of water when it’s particularly sunny. The £100 per year actually, we’re finding that households are saving system uses 90% less water than a hose. Thames an average of £100 per year by paying for what Water is offering a 15% discount on the kit (which by paying for they actually use, rather than a figure based on their retails at £79.50) to its customers. what they property size. Over 20,000 customers come to us A range of freebies from water suppliers aims to actually use every year, asking for them.” help customers recognise the cost of water. As part Traditionally, water meters are installed to of its Waterwisely campaign, Thames Water handedRachel England looks at the schemes and pipework outside, but Wessex Water is trialling smart meters – which transfer readings from external water out shower heads, tap attachments and hippo bags for toilet cisterns to its customers on demand.gadgets designed to make us more aware pipes to an internal device – to see what difference (The nifty hippos save up to two litres of water per it makes to water use if householders are able to flush, reducing a UK individual’s daily water useof our daily water use. keep track of their consumption, and its impact on by up to 5%.) Between March and August 2012, their bills, in real time. These devices will send data over 100,000 water-saving products were ordered. to consumers’ phones, PCs and tablet devices to Anglian Water’s ‘Bits and Bobs’ scheme offers help them to understand the impact of actions like similar gadgets, and includes a visit from a plumber Technologies are evolving to make wise water use washing up and taking a shower. who will fit the equipment and talk to the customer more appealing and – critically – convenient, to The trial is part of a wider project, Smart about other ways to save water. “This conversation homeowners. The most effective will cut waste Dorchester, through which Wessex is working is important as it helps to drive behaviour change,” down the pipe, slim energy bills, and change the with residential customers, local businesses and says Berkshire. “We’ve carried out thousands of Photos: Aqualogy/Water Efficiency Awards / H2eco/Water Efficiency Awards way people use water in the long-term. schools to find the best ways to give them clear visits so far and have a target of 87,500 by 2015. The In Australia, new homes are fitted with greywater information about the price of water, help them to scheme can save over 40 litres per household per recycling units, and tax incentives are available save both water and money, and to understand day – it’s a significant amount. ” in some US states to encourage plumbers to their own usage. The project will also offer advice to There does appear to be a shift in attitude incorporate the technology standard [see ‘How many encourage them to change their habits. towards water conservation, says Anglian Water’s shades?’, p20]. In the UK, a housing development Specialist gadgets designed to cut water waste Marcia Davies, noting that the recent droughts have Photos: istockphoto/thinkstock / Anglian Water in Huntingdon uses greywater recycling in are becoming increasingly popular, too. Thames brought the issue into the public consciousness. conjunction with high efficiency tap fittings, Water provides ‘Leakfrog’ devices which are fitted “However, there are people who were in the reducing consumption from 145 litres per person to a customer’s water meter for between a day and company back in 1976 [during the UK’s last major per day to just 80. According to Gareth Barker, a week, detecting hidden leaks in their pipes. drought] and they say there was a similar discussion Growth Planning Manager at Anglian Water, local Working like stopwatches, the digital device shows then… It’s important we keep the momentum of this authorities in the UK are increasingly demanding the longest period of time it has taken for one litre dialogue going, and that we don’t only talk about that new developments achieve high standards of water to pass through the household’s water water when it’s perceived to be a problem.” within the Code for Sustainable Homes. Greywater meter. The shorter the time, the bigger the leak. recycling units are rated at the highest level (Code Over 70,000 properties’ supply pipes have been Rachel England is a freelance writer and editor 6). Such technologies are largely out of the control tested with the device since 2008, and 2,100 have specialising in sustainability.10 Green Futures October 2012 www.greenfutures.org.uk www.greenfutures.org.uk Green Futures October 2012 11