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12 Nov 2009 05:11:44

Water - Time for Change

We’ve all grown up taking water for granted. Turn on the tap and there’s water, flush the wc, take a bath, put on the dishwasher, turn on a hosepipe. We use water without really thinking about it. We’ve never had to change our ways – until now.
We’re at the tipping point of needing to take a more active role in reducing the amount of water we use, otherwise we will ultimately suffer higher water bills.
Only 1% or the earth water is available for drinking. Governments are setting water and energy conservation targets, with many businesses already paying excessively high water bills caused by lack of regulation from water companies, billing errors, water leaks.
Domestic customers not on meters metres fail to recognise the cost of their water usage and need to understand that when you heat water you are also using gas and/or electricity, hence reducing your water consumption will in turn reduce your fuel costs, and if this isn’t a wakeup call be aware of plans for every home to be fitted with water meters.
We are more aware of our environment than ever. It’s only a matter of time before water conservation goes the same way as recycling of household waste. Both are modern-day issues: recycling came around because we needed to reduce the pressure of ever-growing consumerism and wastage. In the same way, changes in weather patterns and the effects of global warming have had such a dramatic effect on the UK’s water supply that scarcity and cost are becoming increasingly important issues for all of us.

It’s easy, water-saving doesn’t require drastic measures, huge expense or big shifts in the way you do things, start at the beginning with small steps, learn and understand how much water some water-saving products will save (and how much extra money you’ll have in your pocket), then adopt even more water-saving measures.
Reduce your water usage by 9 litres a day, you can do this simply by saving the cold water that runs as your shower warms up, with a Pop-Up Bucket - and then use the water on the plants. A new product to market is Hydrasave – a clever inexpensive device that automatically diverts the cold water we typically waste waiting for hot water to reach the taps to a water butt.
Reduce your water usage by around 12 litres a day by installing a cheap water dams in your toilet cistern.
Reduce your water usage by 30 litres a day can be achieved by installing aerating tap fixtures and low flow showerheads (these can also improve your shower’s performance effectively turning a low pressured system in to a power shower, Don’t believe me? Check out this video not to mention the reduces costs to heat the water

It stands to reason that if they above measures will work in your home then they can make a dramatic savings in your business, but you have the opportunity to do so much more...
An Effective Water Management Plan Can

* Reduce Water Usage by as much as 80%
* Increase Available Hot Water
* Reduce Water Heating Costs by up to 80%
* Reduce Plant & Machinery Running Costs
* Reduce Maintenance Costs
* Meet Government Environmental Targets

Implement a water management plan which will guarantee continued saving and reduction in water costs
Obtain Full Staff/Tenant Support.
This is essential for any plan to be successful and ongoing. Without adequate time and financial commitment savings will be minimal. Active support from staff and tenants is key to success and with this in mind keep plans simple and your targets achievable. Staff responsibilities within the plan need to be clearly defined enabling them to take ownership of their elements, Team work is the key.
Draft a Water Policy Statement that is simple, understandable and to the point.
An example:
This Association is committed to developing and maintaining a comprehensive water saving programme. This will increase efficiency, cut costs and enable us to make a positive contribution towards meeting our water and energy conservation targets at the same time enhancing the environments
Identify the true cost of water
Do you know how much your business spends on water per annum or how much is water costing you?
Check your water bills for the last 3 years and note the annual consumption and cost. Has your water bill increased over the last 3 years, if so Why?
Understand your water usage, does your water usage follow trends or is it constant, are there seasonal variations?
Identify unexplained increases in usage has your bill unexpectedly increased? you may be throwing thousands down the drain without realizing.
Consider associated costs such as energy requirements and chemical treatment. How much does it cost to heat up 1m sq water to 70c Start to read your water meters on a regular basis.
Identify Water Use
Carry out a water use survey to determine how, where and why water is being used. Cistern Volumes can be measured, Basins can be gauged by disconnecting u bend and measuring timed flow into a bucket. Showers can be measured in a graduated bucket over 30 seconds Calculation of an accurate water balance requires realistic estimates of operating hours. Talk to staff about patterns of use as they will have a very accurate idea.
Once the survey is complete you should have a water balance which lists and quantifies individual items of water use. Compare this figure with the amount of metered water for the building 10% discrepancy for unaccounted water should be expected. Any more than 10% means something has been missed or more seriously you have a leak.
Re-Assess Your Water Use
This step will help focus your actions for improving water efficiency. Do I really need to use as much water in this area? Do your showers need to use 30 litres per minute or will 8 litres suffice. Problem Areas will become very obvious and will enable you to prioritise easily.
Encourage Staff/Tenant input and involvement. Switch off running taps and report leaks drips and water wastage.
Identify and Evaluate Water Efficiency Measures (WEMs)
Find products that can achieve your aim, do not sacrifice performance for saving, Low cost WEMs are often the most cost effective so locate and repair any leaks as a priority.
Fit smaller water meters (Where appropriate) lowering standing charge bills and renegotiate the tariff. High users can attract larger discounts. Research water saving products and their effectiveness.
Water saving showers can bring usage as low as 8 litres per minute and still give an effective pleasant shower. Tap controls can reduce flow from 25 litres per minute to only 6 litres per minute, consider tap aerators, push button time control taps, electronic time, control taps, and push button retro fits to existing taps.
Cistern Dams and other measure can reduce usage by as much as 5 litres per flush, PIR urinal controls can be set to only flush the cistern when the unit has been used rather than on a regular basis throughout the day and night.
Cheap and cheerful flow restrictors can be easily and cheaply fitted to pipe work to significantly reduce flow to high use areas.
By educating staff/tenants in water conservation you can manage and identify problems quickly and effectively making sure repairs are carried out promptly i.e. dripping tapsbr /> Implement Your Plan and Monitor Results
Commit your water management plan to paper. Written plans are not set in stone but used as a benchmark to be referred to on a regular basis. Set targets make them achievable, realistic and review them regularly. Nominate staff for specific responsibilities within the plan so that they can be encouraged and guided.
Lack of goal and an established time frame means that focus will be eroded and the plan will slip and eventually fail.
Identify and prioritise actions so that you can initiate the most cost effective WEMs as soon as possible then use the extra savings to finance more expensive WEMs.
Review the plan on a regular basis to keep up to date with estate changes, usage, occupancy numbers this helps retain focus keeping the plan fresh and viable, If not reviewed on a regular basis plans will stagnate and fail It is your responsibility to drive it forward and not become complacent. For more ideas or assistance visit

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