With hosepipe bans in force across much of Central and Southern England and a potential impact on businesses likely in the medium term, there are understandably many column inches devoted to this precious commodity. They warn about misuse, laud projects to conserve it and argue that ‘the UK must take a “more strategic overview of water management” if it is to avoid the “spectre” of drought becoming an annual event’.
Integrated water supplies and water trading are fast becoming the source of much innovative thinking. Severn Trent, for example, recently confirmed that technical discussions are underway to look at how to transfer 30M litres of raw water 80 miles from Birmingham to Gainsborough, using its water ‘grid’ network, in order to supply 10,000 homes in Anglia Water’s drought-stricken region. This is only possible because Severn Trent has been shrewdly shifting water from the wetter west of its region to the dryer east over the last six months to balance out regional supplies.
But the act of moving water around is in itself expensive, difficult and a huge consumer of carbon-based energy. The whole process feels very much like robbing Peter to pay Paul. Research is sorely needed to find more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly ways of moving the heavy, incompressible liquid long distances.
Until that time arrives, prevention will always be better than cure. Droughts are acts (or rather non-acts) of nature we have no control over. We can, however, make a concerted effort to reduce the amount of water we use, build or put out more rain-water harvesting equipment and above all reduce wastage. A few recent examples:
- Stansted airport has reduced its water consumption by 205M litres (nearly 33%) in just 12 months by repairing leaks on its 10-mile drinking water network.
- H&M is using the WWF’s new global online tool to identify and mitigate water risk.
- Bacardi has cut water usage by 1,630M litres (50%) over the past five years across its global production, through a combination of operational discipline, conservation measures, and the use of water efficient equipment and recycling systems.
- RBS is planning to reduce water usage by 12% by 2014
- Nestlé has reduced its water usage by 28% in its factories, against a 2001 baseline, and a further 36% reduction in additional water usage, against a 2005 baseline. It aims to increase this reduction by a further 10% by 2015.
So big companies are taking big, bold steps to reduce their water usage. If they can do it, or plan to do it, so can all companies, however small. In this way, a tsunami of pledges can really make a difference to our planet and ensure that we have enough water for everyone for many years ahead.
If and when water utilities can finally move water around efficiently and economically within and across countries, we will have taken a huge step to ensuring that this life-support commodity is available without restriction to all communities, both individuals and businesses.
The day water is traded competitively, like electricity or gas, Auditel will certainly be there to offer its Clients the most advantageous tariff, from wherever the water starts its journey. In the meantime, we help Clients reduce water wastage via our Water Efficiency Audit offering. If you want to join the journey towards water conservation, please contact me via the home page.
Sources: Edie.net (various), The New Listener