One fifth of UK water is lost to leakage – is your business taking responsibility?

Today, water shortages and the role of business are in the ascendency, but many UK firms still remain unaware of the challenges and scale. Water scarcity isn’t the only issue either: the water industry contributes 1% of the UK’s carbon emissions, this number increases significantly when we include downstream business consumption.

A couple of recent stories lend scope to the issue. EDIE noted in June 2020 that England is at, ‘Serious risk of running out of water within 20 years, because of policymakers’, regulators’ and the water sector’s failure to tackle leakage and align with net zero.’

Further, a report from the Public Accounts Committee, as part of its inquiry into the UK’s water sector and infrastructure, found that around one-fifth of the volume of water used in the UK every day is lost to leakage; a proportion which has not decreased within the past 20 years.

There are big implications. “It is very hard to imagine, in this country, turning the tap and not having enough clean, drinkable water come out, but that is exactly what we now face,” Public Accounts Committee chair Meg Hiller MP said.

Covid-19 and water

It might not seem an obvious linkage, but both businesses and society also need to recognise the risks of failing to adequately protect our water within this newly-realised, pandemic-challenged world.

The Telegraph quotes Dr Maria del Carmen Marques Ruiz, a policy coordinator on environment and water at the European Action Service: “Covid-19 has had a detrimental effect on rights to water, food, health and life. This pandemic is a stark reminder of the importance of human rights to water and sanitation because handwashing is the first line of defence.”

You simply can’t maintain hygiene without water. Which is why it’s so shocking that a fifth of UK supplies unnecessarily leak away each and every day.

Thankfully, answers are out there to enable the business community to play its part in a solution that protects the environment and our health services – and deliver financial savings too.

Water bill validation and revenue recovery

Spotting irregularities in your water bill is one simple way of identifying leaks or excess water use.

Our bill validation and query service can benchmark water usage and spot potential leaks when they happen, as well as identifying instances of overcharging. The financial returns can be significant, and any leaks are spotted promptly month by month.

For an even bigger picture, it’s possible to look back at historical invoices too. BiU’s revenue recovery team can use their combined experience to look at up to six years of past billing, and then see if there appear to be leaks in supply: they know what a typical industry building’s demand for water ought to be, and they will check via specialised sectors too. 

So – if a heavy usage manufacturing plant is consuming more water than it should, it’s possible for the metrics to spot that just as easily as an office with a lower usage leak in its pipework. And where there is probably a leak – between meter and inlet for example, BiU can help you win back money on your business water bills.

Winning against water leaks

There are reputational and wider societal imperatives for businesses and utilities to act. Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of England’s Environment Agency, told EDIE: “People might wonder how a country with such a reputation for rain like the UK could reach a tipping point where demand for water outstrips supply in just 25 years. But this may become a reality if we don’t take action to save water now.

“The fact is a convergence of factors underpinned by climate change has led us to this frightening prospect. But if we all take concerted action now, we can ensure that there will be enough water to go around for generations to come.”

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has raised the appreciation of water use in the UK. 83% of us now appreciate access to clean water in order to wash our hands. Having been placed in lockdown, 82% now appreciate the natural world more, while 76% are more aware of the impact that they have on the natural environment. So acting on water protects your reputation, too.

Upping your act on water

In summary, the issue of water security has rarely been so key, in this era of health risks and virus-embattled business.

The fact that UK businesses can help safeguard our future hygiene, and recover valuable costs through getting water validation up and running is more than welcome good news.