Water use in the UK has surged amid the summer months, with residents spending more hours at home. The record-breaking heatwave in some parts of the country placed a strain on water networks, which is why water firms are now calling on consumers to help in conserving water supply.
The increased demand for water across the country does not call drought measures as of writing. However, everyone is still encouraged to use water wisely since the industry is dealing with another situation that might pose an issue if not acted upon promptly.
The hot summer days have reached over 30 degrees Celsius across the south of England, which means that the extensive network, including pumping stations, treatment works, and pipes, are currently under significant strain.
The coronavirus-related lockdown has also prompted more people to stay home, spending hours inside their homes, and undertaking more gardening and DIY projects. Watter suppliers highlighted that installing a garden sprinkler alone consumes an hour’s worth of water that a six-member family uses in a day. Garden fittings such as sprinklers cause up to a 70% rise in water demand during the summer.
Northumbrian Water stated that while they are used to handling demands during hot days, the management of water supply can be made easier for both suppliers and consumers if water is used wisely. Water companies also stress that whilst it is wise to conserve water, consumers are also encouraged to follow the frequent handwashing advice amidst the covid-19 pandemic to ensure that the spread of coronavirus infection is prevented.
Around 470 million litres of water, on average, are treated daily based on the data provided by Northumbrian Water. However, the lockdown and hot summer days have caused a significant increase in demand and have put more strain on suppliers.
Suppliers do acknowledge that there have been fair amounts of rainfall across different regions in the UK which is captured and stored in reservoirs. However, suppliers point out that this water captured and stored in reservoirs still needs to be treated before it can be safely used by consumers. The challenge suppliers currently face is that water treatment takes time, while consumption happens at a much faster rate.
Drought-like conditions and high temperatures can rapidly follow periods of flooding and heavy rain. Climate change has urged the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee to warn that portions of England could be struggling to meet water demand in twenty years unless swift action is enforced.
As the UK population grows, the pressure on water supplies also adds up, which would likely be a severe problem if nothing is done to ensure that water will remain available despite the rise in consumption.
The climate change emergency calls for urgent action, which is why water companies are empowering consumers to play a vital role in ensuring that everyone in the UK has access to safe, potable water.
Water firms are doing their best to address the situation by working on reducing water leakage across the country. Several suppliers are leveraging innovative technologies that have allowed a 7% decrease in pipe leakage this year, which is by far at its lowest recorded level.
Water UK, in partnership with Waterwise, launched a campaign that aims to encourage people to save water through various means. Even something as simple as cutting shower use by a minute for a four-member family can help save as much as 50 litres of water per day.
There are several ways to help conserve water amid the hot summer days and the current coronavirus crisis. For instance, using washing machines and dishwashers at full load instead of small portions can save a significant amount of water.
Additionally, fixing leaky loos and dripping taps can contribute to reduced consumption. Water companies also encourage showers instead of baths, as this helps to consume less water.
For households with a paddling pool, topping up the content instead of refilling each day can be a great help. For gardening enthusiasts, watering plants in the evening or early morning can help save water that would otherwise evaporate during the midday sun.
Using mulches like gravel or bark chips can help to retain moisture in plants and prevent weed overgrowth.
There is no exact timeline as to when the situation will improve, but water companies are working around the clock to secure the water supply and sustain its delivery to UK consumers.