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Fix leaky pipes and use less water, urges London Mayor

London mayor Boris Johnson urged water companies to fix leaky pipes and Londoners to use less water in his draft water strategy published today

The Mayor’s draft water strategy outlines the many challenges that London faces - rising population, climate change and leaky Victorian pipes and how they could be addressed

Proposals in the draft water strategy include:

  • Water companies should fix the leaky pipes and work with the Mayor to help Londoners to become more water efficient through a London wide homes energy efficiency programme set to launch next year
  • Mayoral support for the building of the Thames Tideway tunnel under the Thames and the river Lee to greatly reduce discharges of sewage into the river and improve the quality of the water in the River Thames.
  • Research with Thames Water and other partners to identify ways to use sewage to provide renewable energy and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.
  • Rainwater harvesting, grey water recycling and sustainable drainage envouraged through planning policies in the new London Plan.
  • Mayoral support for complusory water metering in the capital.
  • Improved public’s awareness of how to become more water efficient.

“It is easy to take our water, in the river Thames and in our taps for granted. It is a vital resource, which is under pressure from our expanding population and changing climate,” said Johnson. “Over a quarter of our climate change emissions from home actually come from the water we use and we can all do our bit to become more efficient in the way we use it.’

‘Water is precious - essential for people and the environment, but we face not having enough if we do not make changes now,” said Environment Agency regional strategy manager for Thames Clive Coley. 

“By 2050, climate change could reduce the amount of water available by up to 15 per cent so everyone needs to consume less and be more efficient with the water that is used. We welcome the Mayor’s proposals to increase water efficiency in both new and existing homes, and look forward to working closely with the GLA and other partners to ensure that there is a secure supply of water for Londoners now and in the future and that the environment remains protected.”


  • Water use accounts for 27 per cent of carbon emissions from the home – 18 per cent from heating of water for baths, showers, hand washing and washing up and 9 per cent from water-using appliances such as washing machines.
  • The energy used to heat water for cleaning and bathing in our homes adds up to be 5 per cent of the total UK’s carbon emissions - that’s greater than aviation.
  • One third of London’s water mains are over 150 years old
  • In London 23 per cent of households have water meters
  • Household meters can reduce water use by between 10 and 15 per cent
  • Discharges of sewage into the Thames happen between 50 to 60 times a year.
  • Eight out of the ten warmest years on record have occurred since 1990.
  • If every Londoner reduced their daily shower time by just one minute, London could save over 29,500ML and 183,000t CO2 each year. That’s enough water to fill 25 Wembley stadiums.

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