• Customers have responded fantastically to help us save water and companies have delivered their commitment to step up leakage reduction.
• We have some of the lowest levels of leakage in the world and over the past 10 years leakage has been reduced by almost 40%.
• The rain has helped, and the area affected is reducing.
• We need to continue to work together to ensure that we conserve water and maintain sustainable supplies.
Customers are helping us save water
Communities and businesses in affected areas have responded magnificently to the current drought, working with companies to save millions of litres since current restrictions were put in place in much of eastern and south-eastern England.
Seven companies – Anglian, Southern, Thames, Veolia Central, Veolia South East, Sutton and East Surrey and South East Water – imposed restrictions on 5 April this year.
We’re successfully tackling leakage
Companies are very aware that, at a time when millions of customers are being asked to save water, they would be asked tough questions if they failed their leakage targets.
All companies, whether in restricted areas or not, are expected to meet or outperform their targets for 2011-12. Total leakage for last year was down, as it was the year before, and that has been the trend for a number of years.
More than 17 billion litres of water courses through hundreds of thousands of kilometres of pipes and through millions of joints, valves and pumps each and every day, and at high pressure. Making the system completely watertight would be simply unaffordable for customers’ bills, which is all the more important to consider when money is so tight for many people.
The recent rain has helped
There’s also no doubt that, in some areas, the unusually heavy rain has helped refill reservoirs and rivers. But in the areas where restrictions are in force, much of the water people use comes from under the ground, from porous rocks that store millions of litres of water. In some places, these natural underground reservoirs are seeing the benefit from the heavy rain; in others, the refilling process is slower and more difficult to predict.
Bearing in mind the difference that the recent rainfall has made in some areas, companies will be as flexible as possible in their approach to exemptions from the current restrictions.
We’re aware that, for the many businessmen and women running small companies, water restrictions can mean loss of income and even jobs. We do understand that for affected businesses, having to reduce the amount of water they use is causing huge challenges, which is why we won’t keep restrictions in place for a moment longer than necessary.
We need to work together
Restrictions will be lifted as soon as it is prudent to do so. But at the same time, we have to consider there may be more dry weather on the way, and even a further dry winter (winter is the time when we would expect reservoirs, rivers, streams and underground reserves to replenish). The industry has to make sure that, if there is more dry weather to come, it has planned and acted accordingly, and made the best use of the water available.