Why do we need to save water?

It may seem strange that we are being asked to save water when, at times, it seems like the rain will never stop! However, it’s not just the amount of rainfall we get that impacts on our supply of water; there are many other good reasons to save water:

  • Our changing climate is likely to leave us with hotter, drier summers, which could mean serious water shortages, especially in the south of England.
  • Our growing population puts ever increasing demands on our water supply.
  • Taking water from the environment means there is less there to support wildlife. The Environment Agency has to carefully control how much water is abstracted to ensure that ecosystems are not damaged.
  • Treating water to make it safe to drink and distributing it to where it is needed takes lots of energy. This energy is mostly from fossil fuels, and so is a source of climate changing gases.
  • Treating our waste water also takes energy, and if the infrastructure gets overloaded, our waste water can end up polluting the environment..

How much water should we use?

The average person in the UK uses 150 litres of water every day, which is more than twice the amount we used 25 years ago. 150 litres per day is equivalent to nearly four and a half wheelie bins full of water every week – for every person in your household! The government’s target to reduce this by 20% by 2030, which means we each need to aim for 120 litres per day. To help meet this target, water companies are providing support to residents to help them save water. Your water company may be able to fit water saving devices in your home – contact them to find out more.

Do you have a water meter?

Paying for what we use helps us to be more conscious of the water we are using, and encourages us to save because we know that every drop of water we waste is literally ‘money down the drain’. If you have a water meter your bills will show you how much water your household is using – so you can compare your use to the national average and see over time if you are managing to save.

If you are concerned that your bills are more expensive since you’ve had a water meter, you can contact your water company to see how they can help you. The water company for the majority of Hampshire is Southern Water.

Top tips – in the home

  • Flushing our toilets accounts for the largest use of water in most homes. Fitting a save-a-flush device in the cistern will save one litre of water with every flush.
  • Next on the list is baths and showers. Showers usually use less water, but only if you’re quick. Why not put a timer in the bathroom to see who can achieve the four-minute-shower?
  • Scrubbing vegetables? Use a bowl or put the plug in the sink rather than leaving the tap running. If you have a garden, you could even save the muddy water to use on your plants.
  • Fitting a new washer in a dripping tap costs pennies, but could save litres and litres of water over time.
  • Southern Water have more tips for saving water in the home.

Top tips – in the garden

  • Use a watering can instead of a hose, and avoid watering during the hottest time of day, when much of the water will simply evaporate.
  • Direct your watering at the roots of the plant, rather than spraying the leaves. You could even try the plastic bottle trick (below).
  • Mulch your soil to reduce evaporation and keep it moist through the summer.
  • Add plenty of compost to your soil to help retain moisture.
  • Choose drought-tolerant varieties of plants which need less watering.
  • Southern Water have more tips for saving water in the garden.

Deliver water direct to the roots of your plants with this simple technique

  1. Cut the bottom off a plastic bottle
  2. Pierce a few holes in the lid
  3. Insert bottle upside down into the soil next to your plant
  4. Fill with water
  5. Relax while the water gradually filters into the soil. keeping your plants well hydrated

The hidden uses of water

It’s not just the water that comes from our taps that we are responsible for. Every person also has a much larger indirect ‘water footprint’. This indirect water footprint refers to the amount of water used in producing our food and other items that we buy. For example, an 800g loaf of bread takes about 1,300 litres of water to produce – and a kilogram of beef takes 15,400 litres of water. You can find out more about how much water is used in industry and agriculture by visiting the Water Footprint website.

Look after our rivers, lakes and oceans

  • Choose environmentally friendly toiletries and household products.
  • Don’t put fats and oils and grease down the drain – they solidify in the sewerage system causing massive damage.
  • No butts on the beach! Filters from cigarettes do not biodegrade, and if they end up in water bodies they can be fatal to wildlife. Make sure your butts are disposed of carefully!
  • Go plastic bag free! Plastic carrier bags are another big problem for aquatic animals, so always remember to take your cotton bags with you to the shops.

Other Resources

  • The Chartered Institution of Water and Environment Management The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) is the leading professional and examining body for scientists, engineers, other environmental professionals, students and those committed to the sustainable management and development of water and the environment.
  • The Environment Agency
  • The Green Roof Centre
  • Living Roofs
  • Marine Conservation Society
  • Susdrain Promoting good practice in sustainable drainage systems
  • Water Footprint Your individual water footprint is equal to the water required to produce the goods and services consumed by you.
  • The Water Management Society By gathering together expertise from every sector of the industry the WMSoc can offer informed and experienced assistance in all matters relating to the responsible management of water in industry and commerce through publications, conferences and journals.
  • Waterwise Waterwise is a UK NGO focused on decreasing water consumption in the UK and building the evidence base for large scale water efficiency. We are the leading authority on water efficiency in the UK.