Swindon turns the taps off in bid to become UK’s most water-efficient town

Posted: Monday 2nd August 2010

Swindon is hoping to set an example to the rest of the UK as the town embarks on an ambitious challenge to reduce its water use. Over the next year, residents of the Wiltshire town will be supported in their efforts to save water at home as part of the new Save Water Swindon campaign launched today by WWF-UK, Waterwise and Thames Water. This will ease pressures on rivers and the natural environment, whilst helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Swindon is in an area deemed ‘seriously water stressed’ by the Environment Agency. These are areas where population density is high and water is scarcer than anywhere else in England and Wales. Despite this, the average person in Swindon uses 164 litres per person per day – a much higher amount than the national average of 148 litres per person and the Government’s target of 130 litres per day.

This comes at a cost to homeowners and the environment, with 6 per cent of the UK’s greenhouse gases resulting from pumping, treating and heating water - more than the aviation industry. Save Water Swindon estimates that by saving 20 litres of water a day, an average home can reduce their water and energy bills by £100 a year.

To help Swindon reduce its water use, a website www.savewaterswindon.org.uk has been set up giving advice on how a few simple actions can make a difference. Householders can also register online for a free water-saving makeover for taps, toilets and showers. Water saving kits are available for householders to fit themselves or they can register for a trained fitter to visit. The trained fitter can give homes a water audit, advise on the best water saving products and install them – all for free.

On launching the campaign, WWF Ambassador and presenter of Grand Designs, Kevin McCloud said:

“Save Water Swindon is an ambitious campaign that will set a precedent for how large-scale water efficiency in existing homes can be achieved – with benefits for homeowners and the environment.”

“As we continue moving towards a more holistic sustainable lifestyle, both in our homes and the way we live, water efficiency will play a significant role. Not only will reducing demand for water help reduce the amount we need to take from the environment it can also reduce greenhouse gases and as a result our home energy and water bills.”

Jacob Tompkins, Managing Director of Waterwise, says:
“Saving water in and around you home is easy and through simple behaviour changes and installation of water-efficient products we can all reduce the amount of water we use by about one third. Swindon is the first town in the UK to have this whole-town approach to water efficiency, and through working together the savings really can be significant.”

Richard Aylard, Director of Sustainability of Thames Water, says:
“Population increase and climate change are making water an increasingly precious resource. It really is very simple to reduce the amount of water we use, both in the home and at work, all without changing our lifestyles too dramatically. And our metered customers can save on their water bills too. We hope that more of the towns we serve will follow in Swindon’s footsteps - as the more we do, the more water we can save, which is good for our pockets and good for the environment.”

Rose Timlett, Freshwater Policy and Programme Officer at WWF-UK says:
“All the water we use at home comes from the natural environment. People tend not to realise that when they turn on the tap or flush the loo the water could be coming from the local river and when we use too much it’s bad news for the animals and plants that live there. With water use on the up, a growing population and the threat of climate change it’s vital that we all take steps now to reduce the amount of water that’s wasted and help protect some of our most special native species, like the otter, water vole and brown trout. Reducing the amount of water we use is something we can all achieve with minimal effort. We hope that other villages, towns, and cities will follow Swindon’s lead.”

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