Tomorrow’s opening of Sainsbury’s most environmentally friendly, zero carbon, waste and water neutral store in Leicester, sourcing  70 per cent of its water demand through rainwater harvesting presents an interesting model.  Is it enough of an example to persuade Mr & Mrs Jones to adopt a similar approach at home?

In a large national survey of water use in and around the home, published in a Report for Consumer Council for Water in Associate with WRc, residents were asked what would be the most likely reason to make you conserve water.  The results revealed the following influences:

  • If water companies conserved water 21%
  • If water-efficient devices were cheaper 20%
  • If it was easy to get information on how to conserve water 13%
  • If someone came round to my house to install water-efficient devices 11%
  • If it was easier to buy water-efficient devices from a local shop 7%
  • If I was reminded of water efficiency when I was deciding on an appliance 6%
  • If I had a better understanding of the impact on the local environment 6%
  • If children were educated about water conservation 6%
  • If someone talked to me to make it clear that water conservation is important 5%
  • If I understood and had confidence in a water-efficiency label on a water appliance 3%
  • Other 1%

Source: Report for Consumer Council for Water in Association with WRc

Other items that respondents identified included: compulsory water meters, if businesses conserved water; if my bill got higher and if I thought it would make a difference.

The majority of reasons listed above are not insurmountable, and most could be achieved without the need for any legislation.  The immediate hurdle seems to be the reluctance on the part of individuals and households to adopt a more water efficient mentality.

Not surprisingly, most felt that water companies do not do enough to save water, stating that they would definitely/maybe do more to save water if they perceived that the water companies were doing their bit as well.

Some of the UK’s Water companies are now beginning to address their widely reported leakage problems, which hopefully will unlock the door and encourage more individual involvement at residential level.

It would seem from the survey that most people would not need to be forced to conserve water.  People need to be encouraged to make savings, through education, with Water Companies setting an example for us to be more water conscious and use water efficiently.

Whatever the solution, it will be a carefully coordinated and collective effort that needs to be encouraged and will win the day. Certainly more action such as the Sainsbury’s initiative can open the door through which others will follow.


About thewastewaterman

Chartered civil engineer with 30+ years' experience, specialising in the treatment and management of waste water. Expertise includes rainwater harvesting, water recycling, natural wastewater, reed beds, drainage, stormwater management (SuDS) and sludge/slurry

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