Targeting Water Efficiency

Promoting change in the Early Years

GECCO believes that being respectful of the environment and making sustainable use of natural resources is an important part of the culture and routine for both children and staff in an Early Years setting

At the end of July 2019 Cheryl organised a Water Efficiency presentation for all Tops nursery managers.

We all learned so much – a lot of it surprising and thought-provoking, and we want to share what we now know about water, what a precious resource it is and how we can reduce the amount we waste.

Living in a rainy climate is a bit of a distraction; water companies capture much less rain than people assume and 12 out of the 23 water companies operating in areas of England are rated as being under ‘serious’ stress. So we really need to create a water efficiency plan now to ensure we waste less of it!

First, a presentation by Nigel Ponsford of South West Water Business

SAME FACTS & INFO, ADAPTED SLIGHTLY FOR THE WEBSITE

Water efficiency: it’s about reducing what you waste, not restricting what you use!

What you did / didn’t know about water

  • It has no smell, colour or calories
  • 9 out of 10 natural disasters are now water related
  • 60% of your body is made up of water
  • You can live a max of 3 – 5 days without it.
  • Without water our world would not exist

Taking water for granted

This child has to walk over 2 miles a day to collect and carry back 5 litres of dirty water just to stay alive.

You get 1000 litres of clean water delivered to your tap the second you require it for just over £1.

Our water is too cheap and has been for years, which is why we take it for granted and waste so much of it – despite it being one of our most valuable resources.  

Our water footprint

In the UK today each person uses around 140-150 litres of water each day; only about 2 litres of that is drunk.

But we actually consume around 3,500 litres of embedded water – the water that’s used to grow the food we eat and make the products we use very day (our water ‘footprint’) – because water is used in the production of EVERYTHING!

How much water is there in the world?

No numbers, but if all the world’s water was placed in a one gallon container, the amount of water available to drink would just about fill a teaspoon. That’s because 97% of the worlds water is saline sea water; leaving just 3% of fresh water but about 2% of that is tied up in ice and snow leaving us with less than 1% to drink, wash with, irrigate crops, use in industry, generate power, etc. 

Most of the 1% of fresh water comes from ‘ground water’ – aquifers that have slow replenishing rates and are often pumped out faster than they refill. Some deep aquifers contain “fossil water” that has been locked in for thousands of years – once it’s used up it’s gone forever. A much smaller amount comes from quicker replenishing supplies such as rivers, or stored in reservoirs to be replenished by rain (surface water). 

World Water Deficiencies

Example 1. Saudi Arabia where over pumping of aquifers caused a water crisis which started in 1983 when they began growing wheat in the deserts and needed large amounts of water for irrigation. The aquifers are now all but dry and wheat farming was banned in 2016. Water is now taxed in the hope of reducing consumption.

Example 2. Places like the Californian Central Valley have seen a dramatic increase in well drilling recently to compensate for surface water lost due to drought. It will take generations for the aquifers to recover from over abstration and Government pumping restrictions won’t be enforced until 2020.

Example 3. In the UK alone demand for avocados increased by 27% in 2017, with similar growth across the rest of the western world, causing huge environmental and social problems where they are grown.

It takes about 320 litres of water to grow one avocado! In Chile many plantations install illegal pipes and bore holes, diverting water from rivers to irrigate their crops; as a result rivers have dried up, groundwater levels have fallen and local residents are now having to move out. In Mexico avocados are such a valuable crop the drug cartels are now involved, drilling deep wells and forcing villagers to leave due to the lack of water. 

Water in the UK

London is now reckoned to be the 10th driest city in the world. Water is being abstracted from aquifers faster than they can refill. Earlier this year an Environment Agency spokesman warned that if we don’t act soon we would struggle to meet demand in 25 years. Two reasons for this – climate change and population growth.

Hotter, drier summers are predicted for the UK, meaning that the amount of water available will be reduced by 10-15%. This could increase the chances of a drought, but it could also mean more extreme and less predictable rainfall.

As you can see from the UK map, those in the South West are lucky, a high percentage of their water comes from surface water sources that replenish quickly (especially this June), whereas Southern Water has 72% of its water sourced from aquifers. Nevertheless the effects of climate change mean that now, more than ever, we need to do everything we can help nature out. The less water we use (or waste) the more we can keep our rivers and streams flowing and nature thriving.

The UK water industry collects, treats and supplies more than 16 billion litres of water every day for domestic and commercial customers in the UK. Here are some fascinating facts about the system:

  • The network of pipes through which our water reaches us was begun in the 1930s
  • There are now more than 213,000 miles of pipe owned by water companies
  • With around 24 million connections
  • More than 1,000 pipes burst every week!
  • Around 3.1 billion litres a day are lost to leaks in England & Wales – that’s more than the whole of industry uses! (water is also lost to leaks in pipes at home and on other privately owned land – those are our responsibility)
  • Water companies spend millions every year repairing and replacing old pipes
  • Offwat have calculated it would cost over £100 billion to renew the network of pipes – and it would reduce leakage by just 50%
  • Replacing the system would also cause massive disruption; e.g. over a 20 year period more than 10,500 miles of pipe and 1.2 million connections would need to replaced every year!

The UK  population of 66 milllion (2017) is expected to rise by another 5 million in the next 10 years; if we carry on using water at the rate we are (150 litres per person per day) another 750 million litres of water a day is needed through an already stressed system. 

So yes, we need to be careful with our water. And below are some suggestions of what you can do as a business.

 

How to manage your water use as a business

Whether you have a large business using a lot of water, or an office with just toilets and kitchen, a lot of the advice will be the same

Washrooms & kitchens

  • Make sure you have water efficient taps in wash rooms
  • Go Low Flow and reduce the flow or fit aerators and install low-flush toilets
  • Fix any leaking or dripping taps
  • Check toilets are not leaking
  • Install water efficient dishwashers

Make your staff water wise

Talk to them about water saving initiatives, policies and procedures, and encourage new water saving ideas

Eat & prepare less water-intensive foods

Our diets account for about half of all the water we consume. All foods have a water footprint, but some are much larger than others.

You’ll find Water Footprint information and resources at www.waterfootprint.org/en/

Have a water audit

Many companies underestimate the amount of water they use. Having an Audit will assess the amount of water used and:

  • identify where savings could be made
  • pick up on leakage
  • look at water saving initiatives 

Rethink your landscaping

Do you use a lot of water to irrigate grass or plants? Try rain water harvesting, and you don’t need to spend too much, a simple water butt will have a much shorter pay-back than a pumped system. Or try using cobbles and sculptures in place of grass and plants. 

Buy less

Consumer products are an often-overlooked source of water use, accounting for up to a third of most people’s water footprint. Buying less of everything – from toys to clothing to electronics – can dramatically decrease your water footprint.

Next, a presentation by Emma King of AquaCare 

WATER HYGIENE, AUDITS & MORE FOR BUSINESS

Download the AquaCare presentation (pdf)

Download the AquaCare presentation (pdf)

Water Management

AquaCare provide important Water Management services to commercial, industrial and public sector organisations – including schools and nurseries – which can help reduce your water and wastewater bills:

  • Legionella Risk Assessments
  • Water Monitoring and Maintenance Regimes
  • Smart Metering and Water Audits
  • Legionella Awareness Training
  • Plumbing and Remedial Works

Targeting Water Efficiency Updates

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