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01 March 22

Affinity Water making the headlines with its Save our Streams campaign

Save our streams sign in a stream

  • Now 184,000 sign ups to SOS
  • Across July and August 2021, 1bn litres was saved, equivalent to one maximum peak day’s demand in those two months
  • Plans for new SOS2 launch from May 2022.

Affinity Water’s successful SOS campaign has gained recognition in one of the industry’s most prominent publications.

In an article in the March 2022 edition of The Water Report campaign managers for Affinity Water, Ed Barnes, Interim Head of Demand Management and Gillian Watt, SOS lead, tell the full story of how they rolled out the SOS campaign with a launch event in a chalk stream in April 2021 - during a Covid19 lock-down - with comedy performers including Sandi Toksvig. SOS has gone on to become an industry leader in demand management.

The feature set out how the momentum for the SOS campaign built up steadily over a period of months, its impressive numbers and some tips for other Water Companies:


How Affinity Water did it and the verified numbers

  • SOS launched in April last year, had 45,000 sign ups by June, which doubled to 90,000 in July. Strong growth continued with 135,000 signed up by August,
  • stabilising to 150,000 by September, and 160,000 by November. Numbers have continued to edge up since then to reach 184,000 today.
  • Ed Barnes says: “We’ve been ambitious from the outset we’ve tried to find out what’s possible and not be constrained by the industry’s expectation of what’s possible”.
  • Gillian Watt explained: “Our remit to ‘be brave and bold’ steered us throughout the campaign.”


Water reduction achievements and reaping its investment

  • 184,000 sign ups have translated into substantial water reductions. Across July and August 2021, 1bn litres was saved, equivalent to one maximum peak day’s demand in those two months. “So we took a whole day’s consumption out in that window,” comments Barnes. Comparing August 2021 with August 2020 – the most directly comparable month year on year where other variables were the most consistent – 20m litres of water a day were saved exclusively through SOS activity. Barnes points out these are not estimated or theoretical savings; they are derived from an audited AI model Affinity built to plan for Covid lockdown impacts on demand which was adapted to understand the impact of the St Albans campaign and subsequently SOS. The model uses multiple data sets including DMA monitoring and meter reads to measure “real savings, not estimates".
  • Barnes says the peak was driven by a “bow wave of activity” featuring “clever and highly targeted alignment of communications with where Tubatha (a giant bath tub used for photo opportunities) was”. Moreover, SOS was an “intentionally diverse campaign” which sought to reach different demographics simultaneously – including though social media influencers and “highly effective use of social media” more generally for younger generations, through getting local MPs and councillors into Tubatha for photo-ops for a more traditional approach.
  • Through national, local and social media coverage, billboards, adverts and in-person contacts, the team says the campaign has reached 38m people.
  • He says the investment has been well worth it; even when you factor in the cost of building a giant bath and staffing it to be hauled around the streets of the south east. “It is cheaper than reducing the equivalent from leakage or finding a new source of supply – dramatically”.


The Future and a new launch

The article ends with a sneak preview of what Affinity Water campaign managers are planning next to help reduce demand for water through SOS Mark 2.

  • Buoyed by success, the demand management team is planning 33 projects this year and is very much “working on the second album” in terms of SOS2 for launch from May. The basics of the campaign will remain but the plan is to evolve it and deliver a similar sized campaign all over again. Watt points out that with Covid hopefully receding, routes that were closed to the company last year should open up, including large public events and work in schools.
  • Among the other projects for 2022 will be a new steering group for children, and the launch of a new Minecraft platform where young gamers can explore the water cycle and saving water in the home as they create their online worlds, hopefully boosting interest in STEM subjects along the way.

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