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Our Water Resources

In the autumn and winter of 2021/22, our regions received lower than average rainfall. Therefore, our groundwater levels are below average for the time of year, and we’re reliant on receiving significant rainfall during the upcoming autumn and winter to help replenish our supplies. The graph below shows rainfall over the last 12 months compared to average levels.

These figures are from the Central region only.

All of this has led to the driest start to the year since 1976 and The Environment Agency has declared a drought for Southeast England (Friday 12 August).

Despite this announcement, it remains unlikely that we’ll need to impose a hosepipe ban (TUB) this year.

Why haven’t you put in a hosepipe ban?

Droughts affect all water companies differently. Most of the water we supply is from groundwater. Regions that supply more water from surface water resources – such as rivers, streams and reservoirs - are usually affected first, due to less rainfall and more evaporation. Some of the neighbouring water companies in our region have implemented restrictions.

Our Drought Plan is agreed with government and a hosepipe ban (TUB) is brought in when our groundwater levels reach a certain level, to help us conserve supplies. We haven’t reached those levels yet, but we’re monitoring the situation closely and may need to consider future restrictions if we don’t get enough rainfall over autumn and winter. You can see our current groundwater levels below.

These figures are from the Central region only.

For a more detailed look at this, visit affinitywater.co.uk/water-resources

While we do not need to bring in a hosepipe ban (TUB) at this time, we’re asking people to do their bit and use water wisely which will help protect our natural environment and reduce the need to impose bans next year. We need everyone’s help right now to achieve this – especially if we have another dry autumn and winter this year. To find out more about this visit our news page. 

During spells of warm and dry weather, there’s always a huge increase in demand for water as we like to use more in the garden; watering plants and filling up large paddling pools. Find out more about high demand here.

Water Saving Tips

There are small changes that you can make that can have a massive impact not only on your own water supply, but for your local environment too.

  • Hang up your hosepipe – A garden hosepipe from your mains supply uses as much water in an hour as the average family of 4 uses in a day and a half - try to use a watering can or water butt instead.
  • Load it up – Only run your washing machine and dishwasher with a full load…this uses less water than two half loads.
  • Shorten your shower – Take a 4-minute shower instead of a bath – you’ll save around 50 litres with each wash.
  • Turn off the tap… while brushing your teeth and save over 6,500 litres of water a year.
  • Don’t overfill your bath – If you do fancy a bath, try and use less water in it – it’s easy to save over 30 litres each time.
  • Find out more about our local water sources

    We can't collect every drop

    Plants use some water, and some evaporates, while heavy rain runs straight into rivers and drainage.

    What happens to the rest?

    It soaks deep into the ground before reaching a layer of chalky rock, (an aquifer). It takes several months & the water soaks in more during winter & not as much during summer.

    How we collect your water...

    We draw water up from aquifers through boreholes, before transporting and treating it.

    ... and how it ends up at your house

    We pump the treated water to your home, where it's used for washing, cleaning, cooking and drinking.

     

How we're helping to save water

Leakage

Reducing leakage is incredibly important to us. It plays a key part in helping us to leave more water in the environment. Our dedicated teams are working 24/7 to fix leaks on our network, fast.

To find and detect these leaks, they use the latest technology, from sensors underground to highly detailed satellite surveys.

Investing in our infrastructure

We recently announced plans to build a new water treatment works at Sundon, Bedfordshire – this will enable us to bring in more water from neighbouring areas. Read more about these plans.

We’ve also been working in collaboration with our local communities to improve the chalk streams in our area for over 20 years. Since 2015, we’ve carried out restorations for over 120km of chalk streams and aim to complete river enhancement works at over 30 locations across 13 chalk rivers by 2025. Through our programme, we’ll have reduced the amount we take from chalk groundwater by almost 100 million litres a day by 2025 since the 1990s – more than halving the amount we take from groundwater in the Chilterns to help protect chalk streams.

Investing in our metering programme

Our metering programme gives customers visibility of their water usage. This creates more opportunities than ever to save water, energy, and money (good things really do come in threes!).

We fitted 54,877 meters last year alone, which means approximately 65% of households in our central area are on a metered supply. If you don't currently have a meter, you can apply for one here:

Frequently asked questions

  • Can I still use my hosepipe?

    Yes, you can still use your hosepipe. However, we’re asking everyone to use water wisely and conserve supplies, so the use of hosepipes should be avoided where possible. Simple steps to reduce your hosepipe use include using a watering can to water your plants, and using a bucket and sponge to wash your car.

  • Will you introduce a hosepipe ban?

    At current levels we should not need to introduce restrictions this year, however we are dependent on rainfall over the next autumn and winter period to refill groundwater aquifers for next spring and summer. That’s why we’re asking everyone to use water wisely and conserve supplies. Join over 235,000 other people that have signed up to saveourstreams.co.uk to get access to FREE home water efficiency checks, free water saving devices and tailored advice to save water.

  • Why does my water pressure change during hot weather?

    Water pressure in our network is affected by demand and will vary throughout the day. During spells of warm and dry weather, there’s always a huge increase in demand for water as we like to use more in the garden; watering plants and filling up large paddling pools. This high usage decreases our storage, as this is what we need to use for your drinking water to meet demand. When our storage is low and demand is high, this can lead to low water pressure or supply interruptions because water can’t get through the pipes quick enough. If you're experiencing low water pressure at the moment, please see our alerts page to see which areas are currently affected.

  • Why can dry weather affect my water supply?

    Groundwater sources are an important part of our supply – they make up most of the sources that we use to supply water in our area. The critical period for underground aquifers to recharge is between October and March each year, and during the last recharge period there was lower than average rainfall. Currently there is no impact to water supply, but rivers in our area may have lower flows and the upper reaches of some Chalk streams may be dry. To stay up to date with our latest resource position, please visit affinitywater.co.uk/resources

  • Why do leaks occur?

    Water networks all over the world are prone to leakage as water is pumped through thousands of miles of pipes at high pressure causing weak points over time. Affinity Water operates over 16,800 km (over 10,000 miles) of pipe network that would stretch from London to Sydney. There is the potential for bursts and leaks to occur anywhere within this network. There are many things that effect the condition of our vast underground network. Periods of extreme dry weather cause shifts in ground movement which can cause pipes to bend and crack, releasing water.

  • What are you doing about leakage?

    We know we need to do our bit to conserve water and help the environment. We’re investing heavily to reduce leakage by 20% by 2025 and have already achieved a 10.5% reduction in the first 2 years. We’ve driven leakage down to its lowest ever level we’ve had as a company and will maintain our focus on this key area. However, we know we must do better and need to do much more, which is why we are using new innovative methods and technologies, such as artificial intelligence and digital networks, to find and fix leaks faster than ever before, with the aim to reduce leakage by 50% by 2050. 

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