water bottle on parched ground

Now is the time to focus on conserving water

15 August 2022 | News

It’s been a hot couple of months across Europe.  Water shortages across the continent, from France through Italy, Spain and beyond, are creating a critical situation.  We are seeing the most severe drought in decades, causing rivers to dry up, farming to grid to a hall, forest fires to spread and medical emergencies to occur.

In the UK, we have experienced temperatures that most of us have never encountered before in this country.  In July, the mercury hit 40 degrees Celsius, something that has only happened one other time in the last 100 years. 

Our infrastructure is struggling

Our infrastructure is not set up for this kind of heat.  The water companies are struggling.  Most people don’t have domestic air conditioning and the fact that our houses are built to retain warmth – because our winters are generally quite cold – means that escaping this hot spell is very difficult.

This year is likely to become one of the hottest and driest ever recorded.  This, coupled with the lack of rain since the spring – means that our water usage is up but our water sources are not being replenished. 

Only drizzle will save us

How long, then, will it take for our arid conditions to improve?  Experts are saying that we’re not going to see any real improvement until the autumn.  We might well have rain over the next couple of weeks, but it’s not likely to be the right type of rain.  Heavy thundery showers don’t help at all as the dry soil is incapable of absorbing large amounts of water, which then leads to flash flooding – yet another issue. 

Our recovery is therefore likely to be slow.  Meteorologists are hoping for a wet autumn and winter, with days of drizzle, rather than incessant rain.  That’s the only way that our reservoirs and rivers will be refilled. 

The new normal

Is this the way it’s going to be from now on?  Not necessarily. However what is happening at the moment is showing us what is possible.  Heatwaves are becoming more extreme under climate change and droughts are going to be more intense, more frequent and longer.

What was incredibly rare, even ten or 20 years ago, could well happen every few years in this country.  And therefore we need to prepare our infrastructure to cope with extreme heat. 

We need to make a difference now

The Environment Agency said last month it was taking precautionary actions to mitigate impacts after most of England moved into “prolonged dry weather status” – the early stages of a drought. And an official drought was declared in eight areas in England last week.

Despite the UK’s water companies coming under fire for not fixing leaks in their systems – we’ve all seen the pictures of water gushing from the mains in streets around the country – they reassure us that their water supplies are resilient and that country is better prepared than ever before for periods of dry weather.”

Nonetheless, we’ve seen water restrictions being imposed on domestic users all over the country to help us cope with the current situation. 

And that’s all well and good.  However we, as consumers, need to start taking this really seriously. Now.  If we don’t manage this precious resource by using it wisely and reducing how much we use we’re going to be in dire straits before too long.

So what would have the most impact?

Of course we know all the top tips to save water – taking showers instead of baths,  not watering our lawns, and switching off taps whilst we brush our teeth – and obviously these do help.  However, there is one BIG TIP that so many overlook.  And that’s using smart technology to help us save water and change our water habits. 

One specific example is Sonic from Hero Labs, which has been developed to detect leaks at source in a property, alerts the owner of the property and even shuts off the water supply to stop the problem fast.  Water leaks in the UK cost insurers over £800m per year (equating to £2.2m every single day) so this is a great solution to big problem.  Within the first year, a third of Sonic users revealed that the smart device had highlighted a – formerly undetected – leak in their property.

But Sonic isn’t just about preventing leaks – it also helps to save the environment, by helping consumers to monitor and understand their water consumption and find ways to use less.

Over a third of Sonic users have reported that they have changed their water usage habits since installing the device, merely by being more mindful of the way they live their lives – ie by running their washing machines and dishwashers less regularly.  Some even report that their children are now more aware and interested in how they can prevent water wastage.

Plus, another reason – if we needed one – is that conserving water saves energy and therefore expenditure. Energy is needed to filter, heat and pump water to your home, so reducing your water use also reduces your carbon footprint.

At the end of the day, using water wisely will save you and money on your water and energy bills and will help to extend the life of existing supply and wastewater facilities.

So let’s do it.  No excuses.  Save water and the planet.