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Household water use comes under research scrutiny

Posted: 11-Jun-2020

A UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR) project to better understand household water use – to help drive down demand to ultimately reduce abstractions from the environment – has got underway.


UKWIR has given the green light to HR Wallingford for its “Improving understanding of current and future household water use” project to help answer its Big Question: How do we halve freshwater abstractions in a sustainable way by 2050?

The project will comprise both data collection and analytic stages, and recommendations on how companies can more accurately estimate current and predict future household water use.

Paul Merchant, UKWIR Programme Lead and Supply Demand Manager at South West Water, said: “Household water use makes up over half of the total demand for water, which comes from a natural environment already under increasing pressure from climate change and population growth.

“As a result, water companies have committed to meeting ambitious targets that reduce how much water customers use, but in trying to achieve those it faces considerable challenges.

“That includes there being limited availability of detailed household water use data and the various components, such as garden watering, leaks and plumbing losses, that make up overall demand. Furthermore, what there is available is often only accessible to individual water companies who analyse it in different ways to each other.

“This project will bring together everything we know so far about household water use and give us both the detail, and the bigger picture, we need on how best to tackle and reduce it.”

Andy Ball, Technical Director at HR Wallingford, said they were delighted to be leading the work, not least as “the point at which water is used, enjoyed, lost or wasted in households is particularly critical to understand, as it will enable water companies to better target their water efficiency and leakage activities.”

The project, which is overseen by a steering group comprising water company members, the Environment Agency, Water UK and Waterwise, is also expected to provide greater understanding of how socio-demographic factors influence water use, and allow greater collaboration and consistency to tackling sector-wide issues, such as leaky loos, plumbing losses and supply pipe leakage.

The project will conclude in November 2020 when UKWIR will hold a workshop to disseminate the findings of the project and outline the recommendations for how water companies should respond.

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