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Water Neutrality

Delivering water-saving solutions for new housing developments

In our supply area, new properties are expected to use an extra 83.03 million litres of water a day by 2032, on top of what is already being used.

We're leading an innovation project called "Water Neutrality at *NAV sites" funded by Ofwat and Nesta. The project aims to understand how the total amount of water used in the community can be the same as before the new homes were built.

Man and lady walking through a new housing development

We're working with developers and technology manufacturers to understand the challenges and opportunities that delivering high water-efficient new homes presents at the same time as installing products on existing homes and businesses. We will create a "water neutrality blueprint" and share our findings for others to follow. We shall do this by:

Reducing water use in homes 

  • Installing water-saving devices in homes – shower heads, tap inserts, and larger infrastructure such as greywater recycling, and rainwater harvesting units 
  • Running a best practice behaviour change campaign for residents to reduce water-use as far as possible

Hands screwing on a shower head

Offsetting the rest 

  • Installing water saving devices, greywater recycling and/or ultra-low flush toilets and detecting and fixing leaks in commercial buildings like schools and leisure centres to offset the water used by the new homes.
  • By combining the reductions from customers and commercial buildings, the water used by the new housing development has effectively been wiped out, making it "water neutral".  

We're working with house builders, *NAVs, local authorities, technology manufacturers and suppliers, behavioural change specialists, and neighbouring water companies. Our first trial is at a development site called Bidwell in Houghton Regis Town, Central Bedfordshire. Here we are exploring how a behavioural change campaign can change residents' water use without the use of water-efficient technology.

For all the latest about the project visit the Bidwell Water Savers website

Benefits we aim to show: 

  • Customers will have lower bills due to their reduced water use 
  • The local water levels in aquifers, rivers, and streams will not be impacted by water-neutral housing developments in the future 
  • This helps us future-proof the local water network against population growth 
  • There are significant carbon emissions saved from not treating or pumping the saved water. 
  • The blueprint allows other water companies to create water neutrality at scale and the smaller water providers (*NAVs) will benefit from better access to the market and strengthened industry partnerships. 

What are we doing to support this and what roles do they play in the fixtures and fittings of people’s homes?  

In this episode of the Affinity Water podcast, Mark Fenning, Network Regulations Team Leader and Jon Dunne, Network Regulations Inspector discuss enforcing water regulation standards within the industry. There needs to be a real focus on education within this remit that applies to manufacturers, tradespeople, and customers. Mark and Jon discuss how there’s a real need for manufacturers to issue clear instructions to make sure new appliances are fitted according to the regulations and standards. Manufacturer instructions need to be supplied in a way that’s clear and easy for tradespeople to follow along and comply with the regulations in place.

Water Reuse systems

In this podcast, Sam Burgess the Water Reuse Manager at SDS Ltd., explains how these new systems will work. Sam also gives us some eye-opening statistics that show just how much water can be saved by implementing water reuse systems in both new commercial and private properties. The water saved through this project will hugely benefit the environment by making sure less water is wasted, meaning less water will need to be abstracted in our catchment areas.

What is NAV?

New appointments and variations (NAVs) are limited companies who can be appointed to provide a water and/or sewerage service to customers in an area which was previously provided by the incumbent monopoly provider.

These companies are appointed by Ofwat and have the same duties and responsibilities as any other statutory water company. For more information on becoming a NAV, or this application type please see guidance published on OfWat’s website.

If you have any questions about Water Neutrality or would like to get involved please contact us:

Learn more water neutrality and view our frequently asked questions.

Water Net Zero - Autumn newsletter

(*New appointments and variations (NAVs) are limited companies who can be appointed to provide a water and/or sewerage service to customers in an area that was previously provided by the incumbent monopoly provider.)