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19 May 21

Leading environment campaigners back action to

  • The less water we consume the better for the environment
  • Hot summer weather can lead to huge spikes in demand
  • All the little things do add up when it comes to saving water

In two new podcasts released this week leading opinion formers say why they are backing Affinity Water’s newly launched campaign.

Paul Jennings

Paul Jennings, Chair of the River Chess Association, an organisation which was set up 12 years ago to improve the quality of the River Chess which flows from Chesham through to Rickmansworth says Covid19 has allowed people to enjoy their local communities more by walking outdoors beside local streams and rivers. But that as the climate heats up due to global warming we need to use less water to avoid a water crisis and to protect our environment and streams.

In his podcast he explained: “There is now a greater understanding of the impact we all have on our rivers which wasn’t the case when our Association started out. If we can combine our efforts and work with water companies, I think we will be able to see a marked improvement. I do think people fully appreciate what they have now. The ability to get out and walk locally was a saving grace for many people to enjoy the countryside over the last year.

“There are a number of actions that impact on the flow of our rivers – most notably it is the weather patterns with dryer periods. It is also the fact that population is growing and that these populations require water. In addition to the population growing, which is one reason for the increased demand for water, our overall daily consumption of water is also growing.

Over the past 30 or 40 years there has been an increase in each individuals’ water consumption and if you add all of these things together, we have a real stress on water consumption and a real stress on our rivers as a result of it. What we need to be looking at as individuals is reducing our water demand. Here we have one of the highest water demands in the Country so we probably have a lot of room to improve. The less water we consume the better for the environment. Not just in this area but all over the country we have an overall water shortage heading our way and we need to be taking action now so it doesn’t become critical.”

He said he was saving water by using three water butts which he purchased at a discounted rate from Affinity Water while giving a fourth one to a local primary school:

“We have acquired four of Affinity Waters’ butts. We use three and have given one to our local primary school that has a gardening club so they now have a greenhouse and a water butt. They are using the water collected in the winter to put on their plants in the summer and that is one way we can make a big impact.

“Hot summer weather can lead to huge spikes in demand at the weekends, finding ways of shaving some off those peaks will help. If a lawn goes brown don’t worry it will come back, that is a way of saving water and do empty those paddling pools onto your garden.”

Alex Davies-Jones MP

Alex Davies-Jones, the Labour MP for Pontypridd, who Co-Chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Water, also says in her podcast that she’s fully behind the new campaign. She previously worked for the Welsh Water Company Dwr Cymru.

She warned: “Climate change is happening and we need to take drastic action or things will get worse. We do need people to understand this so I welcome Affinity Water’s campaign highlighting the issue of our water use. It’s incredibly complex messaging when in areas like Wales you are having to cope with floods and at the same time asking customers to save water. We would be having awful flooding in North and West Wales and then a few weeks later encouraging a hose pipe ban because of the impact on droughts and our reservoir levels. Getting that education and understanding to people of exactly why this is happening is important. Just because we have an abundance of storm and flooding water does not mean that we have an infinite resource of clean drinking water for people to use. We need to get this education into schools.”

Davies-Jones tells us that she favours better use of grey water in homes, improved standards for the building of new homes and the use of water, and that she personally supports the use of SUDS – Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems. She wants Boris Johnson’s government to do much more to communicate the need to #savewater in the face of the challenges that climate change and global warming bring to the water industry and not just spout the “rhetoric”. However, while she would like to see the improved labelling of white goods with water usage, she thinks persuasion is better than coercion when it comes to setting individual water use targets nationally, as these could impact disproportionately on those on lower incomes who may need to use water more.

“Water is a hugely valuable resource and we need to flip the way we think about water and use water otherwise it will run out,” she warned.

Davies-Jones said that at home she uses a water butt to #savewater and turns off the tap while brushing her teeth as well as using a shower instead of filling up the bath.

“All the little things do add up when it comes to saving water,” she said.

More quotes from Mr Jennings podcast:

Mr Jennings said he appreciated the way Affinity Water had responded to concerns about river flows:

“We’ve noticed over the last 20 years that we’ve had extended periods of relatively dry winters which means we haven’t had the aquifer recharges that we expected and that’s resulted in the rivers running dry. We’ve had some extended periods where the river headwaters in Chesham for example have been dry for two to three years. That is something pretty new to the river; it is something we have not experienced in our recent history and we do see that more often now. Every now and again we do get relief from this issue as over the last two years we’ve had relatively wet winters. This winter started wet and is now relatively dry but we have had plenty of water running through our rivers and that can be seen by the quality of the rivers flowing through Chesham.

“We’ve been working with Affinity Water and Thames Water over a number of years, they both abstract from the head of the Chess, and we’ve also been working with the Environment Agency to understand the intricacies, and it is difficult. It is a complex matrix as far as the aquifer is concerned. We have done a lot of work as a group and we have come up with solutions. Affinity Water took some swift action and they stopped abstraction in Chesham at the two locations they pump water to supply locally in Autumn 2020. They have now stopped. So that means there will be up to 7 or 8 megalitres of water per day still remaining in the environment to feed the rivers!”

The podcasts can be found here.

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