Thankfully, the record hot temperatures we had in the summer have dissipated, and we’ve even had rain. Quite a lot of rain at times. But unfortunately we still haven't had enough rain to replenish stocks - that would require us to experience record-breaking amounts of rain in the autumn. Even parts of Scotland experienced water scarcity in 2022. All of this means that if the summer of 2023 is as hot and dry as the summer of 2022, the most water-stressed parts of the UK are much more likely to experience drought conditions, with all the restrictions that will follow. Is your business prepared for such an eventuality?
Sadly, it is a possibility that London and parts of the UK could suffer what has become known as ‘Day Zero’ - when there isn’t enough water available to meet demand. When South Africa’s Cape Town was facing Day Zero in 2018, the only way of averting disaster was to turn off the city’s taps and severely ration water to just 25 litres of water per person per day. If the thought of that happening doesn’t appeal to you, then the more action you take now to make your business more water efficient, the less likely it will be that such severe restrictions will need to be imposed.
By taking steps to use less water now, you will be helping to protect your business in the future. The less water you use now, the more there will be available in reservoirs, lakes and rivers for us to use in the future. If all businesses take steps, however small, it will add up to huge savings that will protect not just our businesses but also our environment. When we abstract too much water from rivers, life becomes almost impossible for fish and aquatic life. The greater concentrations of nutrients in the water that’s left encourages the growth of algae and weeds which depletes the oxygen levels and kills the wildlife. As environmental health is necessary for human health, if our environment is in trouble, then so are we, and so is your business.
There is always something your business can do to save water. Even without the incentive of mitigating the effects of a dry summer next year, there are extremely good business reasons for you to save as much water as possible - primarily because it will also save your company money.
Water efficiency doesn’t necessarily mean using less water - it can be as straightforward as wasting less water. When something as seemingly insignificant as a dripping tap can waste 60 litres of water every week, imagine how much water you might be losing through leaks. A moderately leak on a mains pipe wastes around one litre of water a second, which, if left unchecked for a year, could add a hefty £55,000 to your water bill. And this is water you’re not even using! It therefore makes good business sense to fix the leak, and by doing so, you’ll be contributing to your business’s profits as well as the UK’s water security. It’s a win-win situation.
Water efficiency can also help you use less water where you do need it, and you won’t even be aware you are using less. Low flush toilets, automatic flushing toilets, waterless urinals, and aerated taps and shower heads are all water-saving devices that could pay for themselves within a few months.
Grey water is water that’s no longer clean enough to drink but is still clean enough to be useful in other ways. Instead of flushing water from sinks, showers, dishwashers and washing machines directly into the wastewater system, it can be diverted and used in different parts of your business, for example, to flush toilets, wash vehicles or water grounds. Your business will save money by reusing water you’ve already paid for, and crucially, you will also save money by not flushing as much wastewater into the sewerage system.
By harvesting and storing rainwater when it is plentiful, your business could have its own reserves to draw upon if next summer is as dry and arid as the one we’ve just experienced. Rainwater is not clean enough for drinking, but it is clean enough to be used to irrigate grounds and crops, and to wash laundry. It can also be used in cooling systems and in fire sprinkler systems, and for flushing toilets and washing vehicles. Having a rainwater harvesting system could save you as much as 40% of your current water bills.
When saving water in order to help protect the UK from the effects of another drought also results in significant cost savings for your business, why wouldn’t you do everything you can to make it happen? It’s good for business and, more importantly, it’s for the good of us all.
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