The Cost of Water Inefficiency

By Jason Light  (PIEMA)
Strategy Lead – Environment at Eastleigh Borough Council, Hampshire

I have been working with Southern Water on water efficiency projects for years, from partnering up on University research projects, subsidizing 1,700 water butts for residents and providing offers to residents.

imageOver the last year Southern Water has been running an innovative scheme to provide free home/business visits and measures to certain customers to help reduce their consumption. Southern Water are looking to offer the scheme to thousands of Households and small businesses across their area over the next few years. Having promoted the scheme to our residents, it suddenly dawned on me a few weeks back that I hadn’t taken them up on the offer myself. The following is a summary of my experience this week.

“But water is so cheap”

Over the years a number of people have said to me that water is so cheap that is not worth looking into for efficiencies. This is perhaps based on a simplistic understanding that water costs around £1/m3, in reality it is much more than that.

Whist supply is relatively cheap, around £1.25p/m3 in our area, disposal triples that cost, meaning you actually pay around £3.50p per m3 as a Southern Water Customer. Through my work carrying out Environmental Management System Audits I have found saved the Council thousands on its waste charge through apportionment, but this only works for certain activities.

There are also other costs to water, these range from impacts on biodiversity due to extraction, to the carbon footprint from treatment. Based on the UK Greenhouse Gas Conversion Factors, the Carbon (CO2e) cost of water is around 1kg per m3 (0.344 supply and 0.708 treatment). When you then consider that around a quarter of this water is heated, actual carbon figure is likely to be much higher.

Hampshire is already in a water stress area, other factors such as climate change and new develop could see further constraint issues. This has forced Southern Water to include a the possibility of desalination plant in its long term plan. Hopefully this will not be needed, but (without a switch to renewable energy) would certainly see the 0.344 CO2e figure dramatically increase.

So there are plenty of reasons why it’s in the interests of everyone to reduce water consumption.

My Experience

Having finally arranged the visit, I was extremely pleased by the service provided by the plumber. The engineer ran through a number questions relating to the house, logging them via a smart app and then completed the assessment, including installing three measures, in less than 40 minutes.

Due to high pressure in one cold tap, two old toilets which just had small Hippos to slightly reduce water consumption, I benefited from a range of measures in the house.

Effectively turning my toilets into duel flush systems, the plumber installed two Ecobeta’s (See image). This incredibly simple device restricts a pull to a small flush, but allows a full flush if you keep the handle down. They are available for around £25 each from Aqualogic directly.

imageI have been working with Southern Water on water efficiency projects for years, from partnering up on University research projects, subsidizing 1,700 water butts for residents and providing offers to residents.

 

 

The next measure installed was something to reduce my high 8 litres per second tap down to around 4 litres per second. You can pickup a Tap Flow Restrictor and Aerator for just £5 from Screwfix. But there are instances where they may not be appropriate, such as existing low flow rate or a pumped system.

Whilst these are simple measures to install, this may not be the case for everyone, so it’s worth considering that the cost of a plumber could have been as much as £40 per hour.

Overall through the scheme my household benefited from at least £100 worth of measures, should it lead to a conservative 30% reduction, would have paid for itself in just a few months had I paid for it.

Of course these savings will not be achieved by everyone, but whether it is for your home or business its certainly worth considering these measures or if you are a Southern Water customer signing up for the scheme.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of the authors employer, Eastleigh Borough Council, Hampshire..

http://www.waterwise.org.uk/data/resources/25/Water_factsheet_2012.pdf

Written by

Jason Light (PIEMA)
Jason Light (PIEMA)
Strategy Lead – Environment at Eastleigh Borough Council