Big society, less water use

The Government needs to understand the importance of water management, says Michael Farnsworth. And local authorities, organisations and citizens can play a critical role in reducing the impacts of mains water overuse.

Current schemes such as “The Green Deal”, giving each home up to £6,500 worth of energy improvement measures, have encouraged citizens to take responsibility of their own impact on the environment. This clearly demonstrates the link detailed in the coalition government’s Big Society manifesto – encouragement from the Government to become green but ultimately leaving communities in charge of their own destiny.

The Green Deal is a step in the right direction. However, it focuses primarily on energy management.

What about water use? We desperately need to start thinking about the impact that water management could have on the future of our country and our Big Society. It is essential for the coalition to understand the importance of water management and how the Big Society initiative can be used to reduce the impacts of mains water overuse.

Across the UK, there are areas that have high water deficit levels. Others have high rainfall levels that can lead to serious flooding. And without correct management, these conditions will worsen.

Each area of society can play a key role in making a difference to the environment in which we live. If we do not act now and all take responsibility, local knowledge and expertise will be overlooked and incorrect or inefficient water management strategies will be introduced.

Critical part

To prevent this happening, local authorities have a critical part to play. Local knowledge and understanding is needed so accurate and geographically specific water management schemes can be introduced.

Accordingly, local authorities have been setting an example with their buildings including water efficient measures. Staffordshire County Council recently invested in a green water management strategy in its main buildings.

The Tipping Street development, which houses 1,700 county council staff, uses a rainwater harvesting system and will save almost £4,000 annually, while drastically reducing reliance on mains water supply.

This helps to relieve Stafford’s water deficit. By setting this example and displaying the benefits, local businesses and homeowners will be encouraged to do the same.

Homeowners also have their own role to play in creating their own water efficient environment. The average household could save up to £100 a year just from taking measures to save water.

Water saving devices can reduce mains water consumption, save money, help the environment and improve the selling value of a home.

However to make a real difference, as well as grabbing the Green Deal with both hands, individuals need to look at their own water management strategy – using Hippo bags, low flush toilets, water saving shower heads and rainwater harvesting systems, for instance.

Housing associations also have a key role in looking after society.

As they have more than 2.5M properties and five million-plus tenants in the UK, they should be seeking fresh ways to lower costs and reduce their impact on the environment.

Resource efficient

Successful implementation of The Code For Sustainable Homes, has introduced a minimum level of environmental features and credentials, which prevents developers from neglecting water management. Developers, as well as following the Code for Sustainable homes and introducing energy and resource efficient solutions, should understand that they are creating the homes for the future and need to include comprehensive water management systems.

A third of the number of homes in Britain in 2050 will have been built between now and then so it is crucial that our future homes are cleaner and greener from the outset.

With the introduction of the Green Deal, we are on track in improving the environment we live in.

To fully embrace the Big Society idea and create a sustainable environment we all need to play a bigger part. Water Management is a critical part of this and so needs to be pushed further up the agenda.

Michael Farnsworth is managing director of Stormsaver.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie