Ensuring we meet our region's water demand
It is likely that winters in the South West will become wetter and summers drier, with a reduction in overall annual rainfall. Combined with higher average temperatures and an increasing population, our continued investment to ensure we make the best use of water in the region is one of our key activities to prepare for any future challenges. Our region currently enjoys reliable, high quality and fresh drinking water to meet demand in all but the most extreme circumstances.
We’ve doubled capacity since 1976 and opened two Cornish reservoirs since 2007. We’re also improving, and investing, the connectivity of our network to give more flexibility in supply. As well as this, we have reduced water consumption at our own sites. To ensure we meet our levels of service for customers in the future, we’re currently working in partnership with Bristol Water and Wessex Water to explore opportunities of shared water resources, and we’re investigating new long-term strategic schemes to our supplies to ensure they are resilient to future droughts.
Read our Water Resources Management Plan to find out how we plan to deliver water to our customers long into the future despite the challenges we face in the next 25 years. Our Plan covers both South West Water and Bournemouth Water following the merger in April 2016.
We’ve halved leakage levels in our region, and have one of the lowest levels in the industry, having met our targets every year. We know there’s more work to do. As part of our plans for the future, we’re targeting a further 15% reduction in leakage by 2025.
With over 9,320 miles of pipework, detecting and repairing leaks can be a challenge. Our people work incredibly hard, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, pinpointing and fixing leaks as quickly as possible. As well as investing heavily in technology to help us find leaks, such as drones and high-tech monitors, we’re incredibly grateful to all of our customers who report leaks to us. If you spot a leak you can report it on our website, call our free 24 hour leak helpline 0800 230 0561, or message us on social media.
Over 80% of our customers have a water meter and on average save between £300 and £400 per year when they make the switch. Having a water meter helps reduce water use and costs through the increased awareness of how much is being used. In most cases we can fit a meter free of charge. You don’t need permission from your landlord to apply for a water meter, unless you’re in a fixed-term tenancy of less than six months. If you decide that having a water meter is not for you, you have two years to switch back. Find out more about switching to a meter here.
Engaging with customers
Through a range of pilots, we've been looking at new and innovative ways to promote water efficiency. We piloted a ‘Green Redeem’ scheme in which a community in Exeter was incentivised to save water. If the whole community’s monthly consumption was maintained below the historic average they would receive points that could be converted into vouchers to spend in local businesses, donated to the local school or entered into prize draws. We have been working with St Joseph's Catholic School, installing a rainwater harvesting system, and in just seven weeks the school saved 33,600 litres of water.
We have also been partnering with social housing providers to address affordability issues and expanded the support measures available to those on low incomes. A key part of this is supporting water-saving behaviour and offering to install water-saving devices within the home.
Our community team promote water efficiency through community events and school visits.