Water is vital for all life, we depend on it for everything from health and wellbeing, food, energy, business, tourism and leisure. It forms the foundation of sustainable economic growth across the country – and is fast becoming a major global issue. Scarcity of water is now ranked as one of the top global risks in the world, with one question at the front of everyone’s minds: how can we protect and preserve something that’s essential in everyone’s life, every day?
Here in the South East of England we face a future of more people and less water. Our population is growing fast, and climate change is bringing greater risks of both drought and flooding. As a water company we have two critical roles: firstly as a water utility to deliver essential services to bill-paying customers; and secondly to understand and take into account wider customer interests and dependency on the utility of water in their lives.
Target 100 is a new way of thinking about demand management. It’s about fundamentally changing perceptions of the value of water and working collaboratively with our consumers, stakeholders and regulators to achieve real change by reducing average consumption to 100 litres per person per day. The project aims to better connect people to the local environment and to protect and improve those environments which we know customers value so much.
Southern Water has a strong track record of delivering meaningful action to reduce consumption, we were the first company to introduce a pioneering Universal Metering programme which has helped reduce water usage by 16%. Our customers now use an average of just 129 litres each per day compared to the UK average of 141. Target 100 is the next step in our journey to ensure we continue to build a water resilient future for the South East.
At its heart, Target 100 is a social contract which embodies our commitment to, and agreement with, our customers and consumers. We will educate, incentivise and support customers on how to reduce their water use to our target by 2040. For example, following our River Itchen challenge project which rewarded the local community’s for lower water use, we are now preparing a larger scheme in conjunction with Eastleigh borough council in Hampshire. Through this scheme 53 thousand customers will be eligible for a visit to improve the water efficiency of their home and a reward scheme for lower water use which includes things like discounts on food shopping and gym membership. We believe that a combination of a regular prompt and reward system for lower water use will encourage a new level of commitment across the community.
Through our PR19 consultation and engagement we know that customers associate water efficiency with leakage and there is, rightly, an expectation that we fulfil our side of the bargain as a water utility. Southern water already leads the sector in reducing leakage but we want to go further. So we’re aiming to reduce our leakage by at least 15% by 2025 and 50% by 2050.
Fundamentally, Target 100 is a partnership, we can’t do this alone. Now and in the future we are working together with our neighbouring water companies, government, regulators, non-government organisations, stakeholders and customers across all our communities to manage demand and secure a water resilient future for the South East.
Ben Earl, Water Efficiency Manager, Southern Water
The opinions expressed in this blog are the author's and not necessarily those of the wider Link membership.
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