Policies proposed to protect the UK’s water supply


With a shortfall of 200m litres of water a projected reality within 15 years, Demos has developed a report supported by Affinity Water, outlining the policy recommendations and collective action needed.

The report investigates the factors preventing people from using less water and what is needed to ensure a resilient supply in the near and long term. Leading experts were brought together from across government, policy makers, academia, home builders, climate experts, and the water industry, to consider how to fix the looming national water crisis which will keep the taps flowing.

Keith Haslett, CEO of Affinity Water, said: “As the UK’s largest water-only company, Affinity Water, and the wider water industry have a responsibility to protect the UK’s water supply and help customers reduce their water consumption. We are acutely aware of the challenge here and we are working to improve the resilience of our network, ensuring we do our part to save water.

“In 2022/23, we beat our 14% leak reduction target, achieving 15.8% and are progressing well towards our 2025 goal to reduce leaks by 20%. However, we are not stopping there and aim to reduce leakage by 50% by 2050.

“We are continuing with our efforts to reduce demand through investments in technology, and the exploration and delivery of successful demand management and customer behaviour change programmes. But to achieve even better results, we believe there is a need for a more collaborative approach involving government, regulators, and the industry, ensuring we tackle this issue from all sides.

“The public are already playing a key role in solving this crisis. To this end, Affinity Water has been investing in the award-winning behaviour change programme, Save Our Streams, for three years.

“Nearly 300,000 customers have joined the campaign since it was launched in 2021, and last year, households in the Affinity Water region collectively saved millions of litres of water every day following the communications encouraging them to reduce their water use at home.”

Affinity Water is calling on political parties to include the policy recommendations in their upcoming election manifestos to help to prevent water shortages in the UK. Affinity Water is also asking people to act now by signing up to a Change.org petition to make political parties sit up and take note ahead of the next general election, before.

Consultation with government, policy makers, academia, home builders, climate experts, and the water industry, has led to the development of eight policy recommendations that will act as a foundation for tackling water resilience in the UK:

  1. Resurrect the post of Minister for Water as a formal political position.
  2. Create a National Water Council, which brings together all relevant parties.
  3. Better training for plumbers and installers to reduce leaks and ensure that water efficient products achieve maximum efficiency.
  4. Compulsory water meters for all households including the removal of pre-installation inspections.
  5. Create a rapid “Greywater Review” to identify the feasibility of using greywater for businesses and recreational usage.
  6. More ambitious targets for new homes for water efficiency aiming for 100 litres per person per day in water-stressed areas, and 110 litres in all other areas.
  7. An ‘All-In-One’ approach to retrofitting homes so that water efficiency is included alongside energy efficiency.
  8. Explore the use of rising block tariffs, providing a range of tariffs which determine the price consumers pay based on usage.

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