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Policy position

Water UK recommendations on water efficiency

As identified by the Climate Change Commission, in their recent letter to the Prime Minister, reducing the risk of drought is a crucial in the adaptation to a changing climate. The need for a significant reduction in personal water consumption is central to achieving this objective.

An opportunity to progress policy on this critical issue is now available with the announcement of a new Environment Bill.

Water UK and our members have strongly supported the Environment Bill – and efforts to strengthen it – since its inception, and are pleased to see a new Bill confirmed. However, as identified in our response to the most recent version, a significant gap was the absence of measures aimed at reducing water use.

The most recent analysis by the Environment Agency shows that one of the single biggest factors determining our future ability to meet water needs – and to allow us to reduce abstraction to the benefit of the environment – is whether we can achieve small changes in the amount of water used per person.

Water UK hope that the new Environment Bill will introduce a mandatory national labelling scheme for water appliances like dishwashers and washing machines, coupled with minimum standards.  This would empower customers by giving them the information to make informed purchase decisions and not waste water in the home. Additional action to amend building regulations to require measurements to be based on fittings, not calculated use, and to introduce standards mandatory minimum standards will also be needed to ensure water efficiency is seen as important as energy efficiency in new housing.

Water UK recently responded to Defra’s consultation on reducing per capita consumption outlining the evidence for these recommended changes in policy. In support of this submission Water UK commissioned a significant piece of research to identify the most effective mechanisms which would help ensure a significant reduction in per capita consumption.

This research outlining the most effective measures for reducing water consumption and Water UK’s response to Defra’s consultation can be read in the papers accompanying this page.