More than 40 organisations have joined forces for the first time to encourage everyone in the UK to “Love Water” and the environment.
The government sanctioned initiative brings together the biggest group yet seen of environmental groups, charities, water companies and regulators focussing on protecting the increasingly precious resource.
Hotter, drier summers, droughts, heatwaves and a rising population are combining to put unprecedented pressure on the national water supply. But currently, people in the UK each use 150 litres of water a day, compared to under 100 litres in other parts of Europe.
However, the long-term campaign will go far beyond the elemental call to “stop wasting water” and the size and scope of the partnership indicates the seriousness of the stresses facing water management in the UK.
The campaign has three key aims:
- Encourage responsible use of water
- Help people understand how to limit water pollution
- Encourage people to enjoy the UK’s rivers and streams.
There are many easy ways for people to substantially reduce the amount of water they use. The award-winning Save-a-Flush bag cuts water used in flushing a toilet by 4,800 litres on average per year. It’s a perforated polythene bag with water-absorbent granules that swell, displacing water in the cistern so you use less every flush. It costs very little, is simple to fit and needs no plumbing skills.
By fitting an eco shower, people can reduce water use every time they shower by 50% – and still enjoy the experience as the technology mixes air with the water flow to give a satisfying “champagne-effect” stream. Combine that with a timer to keep shower time under five minutes for maximum savings.
The Love Water initiative is led by bodies including the Environment Agency, Water UK, Ofwat, the National Farmers Union and Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) with others and they will work with businesses and consumers to tackle wastage and pollution.
It is designed to engage the public and encourage them to enjoy water and the environment and the group plans events such as beach and river cleans-ups and water-saving projects.
Love Water has invited utility businesses and other companies to support the campaign with promotional activity. The long-term ambition is for businesses to make water-saving and pollution reduction part of their operational and corporate responsibility targets.
It is being launched as part of the government’s Year of Green Action, helping people to connect with, protect and enhance nature.
‘Jaws of death’
It will raise awareness of how actions such as flushing away wet wipes and pouring cooking oil down sinks can harm wildlife in rivers and oceans, and cause sewer blockages.
Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, chillingly warned in March of the “jaws of death” awaiting parts of England – facing the threat of no water supplies within 25 years.
For the Love Water launch, he said:
“Most people agree that water is a precious resource but too often we take it for granted and don’t see how our actions have a direct effect on the local rivers, lakes and beaches we all care about.
“Our campaign intends to change that by urging people to use water wisely and to think before pouring cooking oil down the drain or flushing a wet wipe away.
“We know that everyone has a duty to preserve and protect water and the campaign will also work with industry, water companies and other regulators in the longer-term to cut down on wastage.”
Martin Spray, chief executive of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, said:
“We all need to make the mental connection that our water comes from and returns to the natural world – via our taps and drains – so it’s up to us to care for that water for the sake of all life, including ourselves.
“More than half of species in British freshwaters are in decline, with 13% threatened with extinction including wading birds like curlew and plants like triangular club rush.”
The Love Water campaign will support the target for “clean and plentiful water” set out in the government’s 25-Year Environment Plan released in 2017.
Michael Roberts, Chief Executive of Water UK said:
“The Love Water campaign is a great way to get the public to think about the link between the water we all use and the rivers and lakes that provide it and sustain our environment.
“But we also know the water industry must play its role which is why we have set out ambitious plans to reduce leakage alongside a new programme for helping the environment, which will see 8,000 kilometres of rivers cleaned and improved.
“We all need to take action so that this country does not run out of water in the middle part of this century. Only by working together can we bring about the changes needed to ensure we have a resilient water environment now and in the future.”
Love Water campaign facts:
- The UK water industry spends £100 million each year clearing blockages caused by the wrong things going down sinks and loos. In February, United Utilities spent eight weeks clearing a 90 tonne fat berg beneath the streets of Liverpool – more than 84 metres long.
- 72% of people surveyed said they used wet wipes, although most brands are not flushable and can cause blockages and pollution when they get into sewers.
- One litre of oil poured down the sink can pollute one million litres of water.
- If everyone in the UK turned off the tap when brushing their teeth it would save 1,584,000,000 litres (1,584 megalitres) a day.
- Research by Keep Britain Tidy shows that 1 in 4 people admit to littering. Last year, a spring beach clean organised by Surfers Against Sewage removed almost 66 tonnes of litter from beaches across the country.