01243 839 880 Contact Us

News, Blog & Events

Boosting Resilience In The Face Of A Climate Emergency

As many of us across the UK take pleasure in embracing the warmth that each new spring brings, it’s hard to contemplate that this glorious feeling could be symptomatic of any kind of emergency. And yet, the scientists that have long studied global warming suggest exactly this.

Climate Emergency Image one tree before disaster one after

Policymakers are in agreement. Earlier this month British MPs approved a motion to declare a national ‘environment and climate emergency’ (the first country in the world to do so). The exact definition of a climate emergency is debatable but the inference is clear: it’s gone too far, it’s time to act. Furthermore, since MPs right across our political spectrum are in broad agreement on the matter, there’s a real opportunity to demonstrate leadership on addressing the issue.

The 25 Year Water Bomb

While much of the attention is focused on carbon emissions, the critical protection of water supplies is often overlooked but this must become an important factor in the public psyche. At the recent Water Retail User Forum, The Environment Agency’s Stuart Sampson spoke of ‘The 25 Year Water Bomb’. Here, he highlighted the fact that, unless proactive action is taken, the UK will simply run out of water by 2045. A presentation by Andrew Tucker of Thames Water at the same event corroborated this, reporting a predicted shortfall in London of 414 million litres of water each day by 2040. This figure rises to 833 million litres per day by the year 2100.

This might sound like a long time away but, despite many years of warnings, the pace of progress on mitigating the environmental concerns that we all face has been too slow. On a global scale, high level proposals around geo-engineering (literally, re-engineering the planet to prevent and counter global warming) are being discussed, tested and debated. But, as always when it comes to acting on the environmental, it’s important to think global and act local.

As non-household water usage accounts for 21% of total water demand across the UK, the actions of our businesses have significant impacts on the mid to long term continuity of our water supplies.

But does responsibility for resolving the issues that we clearly face rest with the supply side (water retailers and wholesalers) or the demand side (customers)? In his recent presentation, Stuart Sampson spoke of the need for twin track action which would address both and we agree wholeheartedly with this – a dual approach is required for positive change to happen at pace and at scale.

10 Useful Ideas to Save Water

So what could, and should, UK businesses be considering to help mitigate the environmental crisis when it comes to water?  Here are 10 ideas – and they’re all do-able right now.

  1. Measure and Benchmark: Get an accurate steer on your organisation’s water footprint with loggers, smart meters and intelligent analytics and use this to benchmark and plan.
  2. Target and Report: Set goals specifically around reducing water consumption and leakage across your organisation and incorporate these targets into annual sustainability reporting.
  3. Shop Around: The open water market uniquely provides an opportunity for customers to be in control for the first time – find a supply partner that aligns with your organisational goals.
  4. Manage Suppliers: Work key performance indicators around meter reading into your organisation’s contracts with water suppliers and hold them accountable.
  5. Take Control: If you are a very large water consuming organisation, consider applying for a water self-supply licence which could deliver numerous efficiencies at scale.
  6. Communicate Internally: In most organisations, staff awareness levels around water are low. Drive behaviour change through more frequent and more effective communications.
  7. Think Twice: Embrace water re-use technologies. Intelligent rainwater harvesting and greywater recycling systems generate water for non-potable uses with low payback times.
  8. Engage Customers: Capitalise on public awareness of the environmental emergency by communicating and asking your customers to work with you to achieve common goals.
  9. lan for Crisis: Enhance operational resilience by ensuring that preparations for more frequent droughts and floods are a key part of your business contingency plans.
  10. Collaborate: More and more the water industry and those that it serves are working together, sharing experiences and collaborating to lead improvements. Attend forums. Be part of it.

The science is clear on climate change. Politicians are supportive of their findings. Now it’s time for businesses to step up, take ownership of the issue and act on water. Ultimately their continued commercial success depends on it.