One of my previous blog posts, Become an Agent of Change highlighted the need for each and everyone of us as individuals to rise to the challenge and to make a difference.
Our participation is fundamental to any long term change in the UK where potable water remains relatively cheap. No end of measures are available that can and should be put in place to alleviate the ever increasing demands on our natural water resource.
Some of these have already been accepted and adopted, and are having the desired effect in industry and business sectors.
Guidance published by the World Business Council for Sustainable Developments (WBCSD) assisting businesses to understand the value of water and how they manage their water use is having a significant impact, reducing water stress and maintaining the sustainability of future operations. Delivering this ideal will rely on closer collaboration and partnerships between local authorities and businesses.
However, even with the technology and measures available, the main challenge remains… how to get the ordinary householder to understand and appreciate the value of water and to adopt many of the measures available… where indeed is the incentive?
Rainwater harvesting and Greywater reuse are all well and dandy, but where is the incentive to change and adopt what could be an expensive solution in some cases. With paybacks of 20 years or more on residential properties, it is unlikely that Mr & Mrs Jones will ever be encouraged to install a system (whether it be RWH or Greywater) that will most certainly reduce the dependence on mains water, but will take a generation to pay off.
In the UK where water is still relatively cheap compared with other parts of Europe, measures will need to be implemented to encourage more efficient use. The knack is to change people’s attitudes without imposing legislation.
In the longer term perhaps, it has been suggested that all households customers should be metered where practical, particularly in water stressed areas, to encourage users to adopt efficient methods and water efficient appliances in the home, indeed paying less if greater efficiencies are adopted.
Until then it is important that the real value of water is appreciated and highlighted, particularly in our younger citizens.
In this respect, education has a vital role to play if we are going to ensure the sustainability of future use. Increased water efficiency and providing alternative sources will certainly help to reduce carbon emissions where implemented.
Much can, and is being done by water companies, and businesses to make efficiencies wherever possible. More must be done, not just by developing new technologies, but by educating those who will be responsible for our future and the changes that are needed now to tackle the challenges to our precious resource in the long term.