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30 November 22

A leading environmental think-tank backs Affinity Water’s Draft Water Resources Management Plan

Sustainability First, a think-tank and charity that works in essential services such as water and electricity and telecoms to promote practical solutions to improve environmental, social and economic well-being, has said there is a pressing need for an action plan to address the UK’s future water shortfall.

In a new podcast for Affinity Water, David Murray, Executive Director of Sustainability First, said the UK must adapt to cope with the problems of demand and supply in the water sector and climate change and that government and regulators should be doing more.

Without action – the area Affinity Water supplies could face a shortfall of up to 449 million litres a day by 2050.

Affinity Water’s new Draft Water Resources Management Plan, which has just gone out to consultation provides a roadmap for providing a reliable, resilient, sustainable, efficient and affordable water supply to customers between 2025 and 2075, whilst taking care of the local environment. It feeds into regional plans which are also being drawn up for the East and South East.

The plan’s actions include reducing customer demand, driving leakage down further than ever before, metering, significant investment in new infrastructure for new sources of water and working across the water industry to plan and share resources regionally.

Mr Murray urged people to get involved and respond to the consultation which runs for 14 weeks until 20th February 2023. He explained: “It’s really important that people get their voice heard on this important plan which impacts every home and business in Affinity’s area.

“It is so easy to turn on the tap and get water that we don’t think about it. These things are completely taken for granted in powerhouse nations, and the risk therefore is that we undervalue water in every sense. How much it costs to get that potable water through our taps to drink it, and the waste management of it as it goes back out into that environmental cycle again to come back to us to use. Providing clean reliable water to our homes and businesses is increasingly going to be a challenge as climate change hits. Water is a massive issue when it comes to sustainability in so many ways.”

He went on to elaborate: “Let’s think 50 years ahead for our water supplies for the UK and think long term and in an adaptive way so that we can cope with the weather changes, like this years’ hot summer, that climate change will bring. With our unconscious turning on of the tap we are not thinking about water in the way the water industry is every day. There’s a communication challenge for the sector so people understand the true value of water.”

He said the public and businesses, need to get behind water efficiency measures and change their behaviours. This is important to keep bills as low as possible, to protect the environment and make sure supply remains reliable:

“Water companies do not take things like imposing a hose pipe ban lightly. Hose pipe bans are not popular but when implemented they can be essential to keep water flowing for all and to protect our environment including our rare and globally important chalk streams. The impact of our individual behaviours, the benefits of being more water efficient, and the risks we run if we don’t, need to be better communicated.”

Mr Ward continued: “Water tends to be one of people’s smaller bills relative to other costs such as energy and perhaps consequently people give it even less thought. Many people don’t think about where water comes from or understand its importance. To meet the challenges of the future will require investment, and likely bill rises. This is a very difficult conversation to have, especially in a cost-of-living crisis. But it is a conversation we need to have.”

He continued by highlighting the importance of initiatives such as Affinity Water’s Save Our Streams Campaign; the need to properly evaluate the effectiveness of engagement approaches and water efficiency initiatives and to share best practice approaches. He said that government has an important role to play and should be doing more to raise awareness of the importance of water:

“We need to support consumers to change their behaviour. That means simple messaging, clearly demonstrating the benefits of action including what’s in it for them and being clear about the risks if we don’t take action. Also, water companies have to play their part too as they can’t expect customers to respond to their messaging if they are polluting our water ways and wasting water through leakage.“

He ended by pointing out that there is economic benefits to non-water companies of doing the right thing, not just in terms of reducing their costs but playing their part too, as water is a part of the ESG (Environment Social and Governance) agenda and investors increasingly want to invest in responsible businesses.: “The stewardship that goes with the ESG agenda (including reporting back to shareholders) creates a higher profile for these issues, so that we can all judge if a company is performing well.”

Affinity Water is asking its customers and stakeholders to comment on the WRMP consultation.

There is help available for customers who cannot afford to pay their bills.

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