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Demand management 'crucial', say water experts

Managing demand will be crucial to prevent south east England from having a water deficit, leading figures from the UK water industry said this week.

Speaking at the ICE’s Water Management 2015-2040 lecture Affinity Water’s chief executive Richard Bienfait outlined the problem facing the region, as climate change is expected to reduce the amount of available water by around 25M.l/day. This combined with an expected population growth of 15% could strain the water supply.

“Supply solutions come later,” said Bienfait. “To begin with we will have to persuade customers to use less water.”

Thames Water’s external affairs and sustainability director Richard Aylard and Sutton and East Surrey water’s engineering director Lester Sonden outlined solutions including compulsory metering, improved systems for rain water catchment and bulk supply agreements between neighbouring areas.

“There comes a time when you can’t do any more demand management,” said Aylard. “Getting better at capturing rain resources must be part of the solution.”

Readers' comments (6)

  • what an irony! Getting better at capturing rain resources must be part of the solution.” (Aylard) BUT NOT IN LONDON where the new super-sewer will simply treat them as waste!
    Come on, please join the dots!!!

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  • It all comes down to how much we are prepared to pay for it. There is lots of water running around in Britain but not in the areas with the major demand. The investment required in collection, treating and transport would be considerable but has anyone asked how much people are prepared to pay.
    Grey water use or reuse could be an option but depends on that being cheaper than bringing in fresh supplies.
    Another option might be to use the output from renewable power generators to pump water when surplus to demand, but this would require storage at the receiving end.
    Engineers have always thought up schemes to satisfy the requirements of their clients and I am sure that this problem will be overcome.

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  • There is lots of water everywhere in Britain if we are prepared to pay enough for it, whether through storage, better utilization of aquifers, treatment and re-use or ultimately desalination (using renewable energy of course). What we are short of is the cheap water we have been accustomed to.

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  • In reply to Robert Moir, water companies are obliged by Ofwat to engage with customers at each 5-yearly price review to assess their priorities and their willingness to pay for improvements. Avoiding occasional restrictions (e.g. hosepipe bans) is never a high priority with the majority of our customers, even here in the South East, if it means an increase in their water bills.
    This is not an engineering problem. We are not short of technical solutions just the willingness to pay for them.

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  • In reply to Robert Moir, water companies are obliged by Ofwat to engage with customers at each 5-yearly price review to assess their priorities and their willingness to pay for improvements. Avoiding occasional restrictions (e.g. hosepipe bans) is never a high priority with the majority of our customers, even here in the South East, if it means an increase in their water bills.
    This is not an engineering problem. We are not short of technical solutions just the willingness to pay for them.

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  • Helping customers to understand how they use water is key to convincing them to use less. This understanding needs to start with the water companies, through better, moe informed data and processes. If the water companies themselves do not understand how their customers use water, how can they persuade customers to use less?

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