Water For Life – Hampshire: An Action Plan Against Water Shortages
The south-east of England is expected to face serious water shortages in the near future, as a result of population growth and climate change putting increasing pressure on water supplies in the region.
Hampshire is just one of the counties in the south-east now finding it necessary to identify alternative water sources in order to ensure that rivers and streams continue to flow and groundwater sources such as aquifers continue to be plentiful.
There is a growing need for change and building resilience is becoming increasingly important, particularly during dry weather conditions and drought.
The county has always relied on rivers to supply drinking water for the population – but new rules were recently introduced regarding how much water can be abstracted from the Test and the Itchen, Hampshire’s two main rivers.
Environmental laws protect these rivers, limiting how much water can be removed for public supply and, with recent changes brought in for Southern Water’s licences, there is now a shortfall of water in south Hampshire when the weather is dry.
The aim of these laws is, of course, to protect the rivers themselves, which are among the finest examples of chalk streams in the world.
Chalk streams are rare ecosystems that support important species, including crayfish, trout, salmon and dragonflies. But with climate change driving more extreme weather events, coupled with population growth, these unique habitats and the wildlife they support are now being threatened.
As such, investment is now being made in new water sources to help prevent shortages in the south-east, while customers are being asked to find ways in which they too can conserve water supplies.
Water for Life – Hampshire
In order to address the shortfall, Southern Water is investing hundreds of millions of pounds into the county and the Isle of Wight, exploring potential new sources of water, as well as focusing on water recycling to keep treated water flowing through the network.
New water mains are also being constructed to link up to key sites and bring in supplies from neighbouring companies. The Water for Life – Hampshire programme aims to reduce the amount of water being abstracted from the Test and the Itchen through the creation of a modern water supply network.
The hope is that a resilient water supply will be built for both customers and the environment, no matter what the weather is doing.
What action is being taken?
A range of strategic solutions are being invested in to help tackle the challenge head on. For example, new sources of water are being identified, up to 125km of new pipelines are being constructed and a new reservoir at Havant Thicket is being built, which could be used as a strategic water resource for the region.
The water company is also working to drive down leaks across the network, reducing them by 15 per cent by 2025 and by 50 per cent by 2050. And it is collaborating with environmental groups, farms and businesses to protect and restore local water resources in specific catchment areas.
Southern Water has also launched a Target 100 campaign intended to encourage customers to reduce their use to 100 litres a day, down from the average of 129.
This is being achieved through tailored incentive programmes, improved customer contact and service, home visits to provide advice and water-saving products, and the installation of smart meters that can track water usage in near-real time.
What can businesses do to help the situation?
Businesses in the south-east could consider signing up to the Water For All project, run by the South East Rivers Trust, which aims to create coordinated action between organisations and communities to manage water differently and more effectively to build resilience in both aquatic ecosystems and water resources for the future.
The project has four main objectives:
- To work with businesses on measures that conserve and make better use of onsite water resources
- To work with communities and help facilitate them to make their own difference.
- To use a natural capital approach underpinning a common vision for river catchment planning
- To work with the water companies in the south-east and encourage them to collaborate and take further action to conserve water and benefit wildlife, communities and their businesses in the future.
There are lots of other steps that companies can also take to reduce their water usage and consumption, safeguarding precious resources for future generations.
For example, you could consider rainwater harvesting so that the rain that falls on the roof of your site is collected to be used in place of mains water, for the likes of irrigation, laundry, process water, vehicle-washing and so on.
Another option would be to prioritise water leak detection and repair. The majority of leaks happen tucked away below ground or are so small that they’re barely noticeable, so you may well have a leak onsite and not even be aware of it. A water audit could reveal spikes in usage, indicating that there may be a leak somewhere on the premises.
Automated meter reading is also often used by businesses and domestic customers alike, where usage is tracked in near-real time. As spikes in usage are identified quickly, it means that water-saving solutions can be implemented quickly, ensuring that minimal water is wasted.
Switching water supplier is another way to reduce your water footprint and operate more eco-consciously as a business. The English water retail market opened up back in 2017, allowing companies to shop around for their water supplier in the same way as other utilities, such as electricity.
Benefits of switching include the reduction of water wastage, consolidation of water and wastewater supply across multiple sites, value-added services and finding a supplier with more expertise in working with businesses in your industry or with your specific operational needs.
If you’d like to find out more about how you can save water and reduce your bills, get in touch with the SwitchWaterSupplier.com team today.