Articles & Case Studies

The stepping-stones to sustainability

Posted: Wednesday 21st September 2011

Following Defra’s recent review of water industry watchdog Ofwat, a number of changes and improvements have been suggested to assist large-scale water efficiency and to provide a better service to stakeholders. However one greenpreneur believes that more needs to be done to meet targets set out in the Government’s ‘Future Water’ strategy.

Although it is clear that relaxed regulations and targets will give water companies the freedom to take responsibility for their own efficient behaviour, we must still follow the sustainable steps to protect our natural resources and introduce further incentives to meet government targets, says Michael Farnsworth, managing director of Stormsaver.

Recent figures released from the Environment Agency have highlighted that over 25 million people across the UK live in areas where there is less water per person than in Spain or Morocco. Frequent droughts and water shortage figures make the importance of protecting natural resources and reducing unnecessary wastage greater than ever.

The relaxed policies suggested to the water watchdog are a small step in the right direction, however to reduce the negative effects of climate change, we need to embrace strategic frameworks, such as the Government’s ‘Future Water Strategy’, to ensure that efficiency targets are met in a sustainable and cost-efficient manner.

The ‘Future Water Strategy’, designed to effectively deal with future challenges to our natural resources, includes a number of simple steps to reduce water stress, such as maintaining and managing secure water suppliers, reducing unnecessary water waste and launching compulsory metering schemes. Unless we act now and encourage the wide scale uptake of these measures, we run the risk of failing to achieve targets created to protect our future.

To fully utilise these long-term water management strategies and encourage green technologies, it is vital for the Government to prioritise investment in green schemes and regulations. By funding measures to support water management, it is possible to provide incentive to invest as well as minimising costs.

In an effort to support green technologies, the coalition, in its latest budget announcement, declared a £2 billion funding increase in the UK’s Green Investment Bank, which will be available in the next few years and will ultimately offer further incentive for new investment in our energy infrastructure.

A number of cost-effective water conservation methods, such as rainwater harvesting and greywater recycling, may be incentivised in the future and will help reduce unnecessary water wastage. Rainwater harvesting can not only help to make a real difference to maintaining natural supplies, but can also help to drastically reduce water bills and reduce unnecessary wastage.

Local authorities have been setting an example with their new developments, many including water efficient measures. Staffordshire County Council has recently invested in a green water management strategy in their main county council building, using a rainwater harvesting system to help save almost £4,000 annually, while drastically reducing reliance on mains water supply.

Many developing countries have also utilised the benefits of rainwater harvesting, in some cases even introducing it as mandatory practice. In certain areas of India and Mexico, authorities have invested heavily in water saving systems to protect dwindling resources. The results are clear to see, with dramatic water saving figures reflecting the positive effect of introduction. The UK must learn from these figures and introduce regulations of its own, helping to lead the way in environmental best practice and offering viable and cost-effective ways to protect mains supply.

The positive outcomes of implementing simple water management techniques are obvious to see. However with ever decreasing natural supply and the increasingly devastating effect of climate change, we must look further than small changes and instead fully embrace strategies and frameworks developed to protect the future of our resources.

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