World Food Day: Time to think sustainably about how we use water

World Food Day


There’s nothing quite like water. It’s essential to life on Earth and this World Food Day reminds us that without water, we couldn’t produce the food that we need to survive. As climate change continues to take hold and our population grows, it’s more important than ever to think sustainably about how we use water.

Preserving our precious water resource

As a water company, we are guardians of our region’s water cycle and water environment. We’re making changes to improve our performance in finding leaks from our network, stopping pollutions at source and improving the quality of water we put back into the environment.

We are also working with the agricultural industry, especially farmers, who need water for animals and crops. We’re supporting them by promoting and incentivising more sustainable land management practices to protect water sources and help improve soil health and water quality, especially to reduce nitrates entering groundwater. 

Saving water by using less

We’re also doing a lot to make sure we and our customers use water as efficiently as possible, and the good news is that collectively, small changes to our daily routines really do make a big difference. We’re supporting our customers, who use on average, 130 litres of water a day, to reduce this amount to around 100 litres by 2045 - that might sound like a lot, but there are a few simple things we can do that have the most impact.

Making sure taps are turned off when we’re not using them – like when we’re brushing our teeth – can save up to 24 litres a day, and cutting just one minute off your shower can save 15 litres every time, as well as reducing your energy bills too. Also, filling dishwashers and washing machines before we use them can cut down on a whole cycle a week, saving around 14 litres each time. And having a water butt at home to capture and use rainwater not only helps save water but can reduce the amount of water running off the land during heavy rain.

Climate change is affecting rainfall

An increase in unpredictable and extreme weather like prolonged heatwaves, drought, and even torrential rain which runs off our increasingly urbanised land, all impact the amount of water available.

Historically, the UK has always been known as a ‘wet country’ benefiting from regular rainfall which helps top up water supplies, especially during the autumn and winter months. This is something many countries in much hotter parts of the globe can’t rely on, meaning they have to be much more careful with how much water they use all year-round. However, due to climate change and population growth, things here in the UK are starting to change.

Water shortages affect colder climates too

It isn’t just places we associate with being hot and humid that face water shortages. Did you know that every city in Australia has more rain than the South of England? Fifteen UK regions, including the South East of England, are seriously water stressed. And the Environment Agency warns that “England risks running short of water” by 2040.

As populations increase and the climate becomes more extreme, the ability to capture, store, and clean enough freshwater for everyone becomes more and more difficult. This, together with the importance of protecting our environment and reducing the amount of water we take from our precious rivers and chalk streams, puts even more pressure on our water supplies, meaning our region will be in a water deficit by 2030.

So, it’s important we all care for water and make changes now, to protect our precious water resources long into the future.