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October 2021
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Key ways to gain a budget boost and lower impacts on the environment

By Scott MacIndeor, water and sustainability lead and Head of Advanced Services, Water Plus

Public Sector organisations have a great opportunity currently to give a boost to budgeting, lower impacts on the environment – and get ahead of the curve for future legislation. It’s down to the water that’s flowing through the taps, showers and toilets on-site and harnessing people power to cut water waste, and – ultimately – lower the utility costs, including energy.

September onwards is an important time for many in the public sector with budget setting meetings in councils and new financial years getting underway for others, like schools and universities.

Looking closer at water – and how it’s used – can pay back organisations quickly, reduce risks to keep doors open and facilities functioning and cut the amount of carbon being created. And your staff want to help you with this.

How people power and data in the public sector can help

Research shows over half of public sector employees cut their water use at home because they are concerned about their impact on the environment and believe their employers could do more to encourage a reduction in water use at work*. The insight in the survey, published here, provides a window into the views of staff to help those managing facilities.

And an Acute Hospital in England that had data loggers installed this year on water meters, found the extra, daily information on water use through an online smart portal is helping with their financial planning including budgeting and forecasting, as well as identifying opportunities for water efficiency steps.

Scott MacIndeor, Head of Advanced Services at Water Plus, said: “Many sites in the UK public sector and other industries will have seen changes in the amount of water they’re using since March 2020 – and this could still vary considerably in the months and year ahead with current working patterns and the numbers of those using facilities. Although water can be an afterthought for many organisations, it can be an untapped source for saving and has the power to deliver wider benefits where it’s used more effectively – including lower energy costs as hot water use decreases.

“Sites with just one, or a few water meters can also benefit from noting meter readings each month, if the meter is safe to access. Knowing what you’re using, where – and when – helps you spot any issues early that may cause disruption. Plus, where less water is used and where water waste reduces, it means less carbon created, so less Scope 3 emissions, helping towards environmental climate targets and Net Zero.”

September 2021 also saw the latest water factsheet briefing note for the Environment Bill**, which included information around building standards and local authorities being encouraged to introduce minimum standards on how much water each person uses each day at sites.

The sense in site checks

Regular servicing and maintenance of taps, toilets and urinals – as well as any water efficiency devices in buildings – is important – so you know they’re working properly and no water’s being wasted.

  • Carrying out site checks regularly is also worth the time. A council that had data loggers installed this year was alerted to a Town Hall that had water leaks losing 200 litres of water an hour. If these leaks continued for a year it would cost more than £5,200. Another site also had 100 litres of water an hour being lost.

 Also, in the last 12 months, a High School with a leak in a plant room at their site – was losing an estimated 12,000 litres (12 cubic metres) an hour, at an estimated cost of £850 a day – caused by a copper pipe that had corroded. The leak was causing some flooding in the plant room so needed quick action. Water Plus provided a quote for its repair experts to attend and complete work on-site and the leak was fixed the following day.

  •  Keep an eye on the weather and take steps to be ready for colder months. Make sure your employees know what to do if they see a leak and how they can report faults like running taps. Review your plans so you know where you’d get extra water if needed and keep updated on weather alerts for where your locations.

Partner with experts to harness water’s full power

Water Plus is the largest water retailer in the UK and manages the water and wastewater services for many public sector organisations, including some of the largest and most diverse in England and Scotland – from councils, schools, colleges and universities, to UK Government-owned sites, prisons, hospitals and the emergency services.

Water Plus also has a unique weather alert tool, which some multi-sites are currently using, to help manage risks and impacts from this on sites.

Get in touch about what can be achieved with your water by contacting their team at hello@water-plus.co.uk

** September 2021 update water factsheet: www.gov.uk/government/publications/environment-bill-2020/10-march-2020-water-factsheet-part-5#further-information

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