We invite you to join our Water Use letter campaign.
Please use the letter below, or download it from here and adapt it to suit a particular building project.
Although the water quality of many rivers and other waterways has improved considerably over recent years (proven by recovering fish levels), river ecosystems remain in peril. Pollution – whether from industry, farmland runoff or sewage – is still high. But one specific problem, which concentrates pollutants’ impact, is over abstraction. As water use grows, over-abstraction is reducing river flow levels and weakening the complex interdependence of insects, plants, fish and birds.
Paving of front gardens with hard surfacing for cars is preventing rainwater permeating the soil. Three golden rules for front gardens are: keep the amount of hard surfacing to a minimum, use permeable paving materials, and plant shrubs, perennial flowers. For information on what measures councils can introduce to help go to: http://www.ealingfrontgardens.org.uk/page11.htm, & https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=878
Climate change is also set to see more and longer droughts – particularly in South-East England, where water demand is highest.
Average water use in the UK is 150 litres per person per day – a level which, although lower than some countries, still lags behind several EU nations. Although leakage remains a severe problem, reducing household water use is the most viable solution for over-abstraction.
More complex solutions range from building new reservoirs to constructing a national water grid, whether using a network of pipes or existing channels and waterways. Opponents of a national grid cite the perils of interference with delicate ecosystems in mountainous northern and western Britain.
Could you write a letter?
Could you send the following letter to local or national house builders? Builders have a crucial role to play as houses meet ever higher water efficiency standards. Or you could alter the letter slightly to send to the planning department of your district council, asking them to support applications incorporating these systems. Or is there a large development being planned near you and could you write a letter to the local press?
Sample Letter download doc
With water demand in the UK predicted to soar by 35% over the next 35 years, improved water efficiency needs to become standard for all new build houses. This is a critical issue and we need to take action. Time is running out.
Climate change is forecast to see an overall decline in rainfall in the UK, alongside less predictable weather patterns. During droughts, which will become more common, water supplies in some parts of the UK will be some 60 million litres per day below demand within the next 15 years. Over-abstraction from rivers is a considerable problem and will see river ecosystems and water quality decline as more rivers need to be pumped dry.
As the water efficiency standards required by building regulations become ever tighter, far more diverse solutions will be needed to reduce average household demand. I would ask you to commit to the following:
- fitting rainwater-harvesting systems as standard in all new builds
- installing greywater or bathroom water recycling as standard in all new builds
- fitting other water efficient technologies, such as aerated taps
- fitting fewer high water use power showers
- incorporating soakaways to return rainwater to the ground
- using the absolute minimum of hard surfacing in gardens.
Unless household water efficiency improves, the UK will face more temporary use bans (hosepipe bans) as demand grows and supplies fall: with a real impact for consumers but also for the nation’s rivers as low flows concentrate pollution levels and weaken river ecosystems. Building companies have an important opportunity to introduce lasting solutions to these questions.