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Welcome to the March 2017 edition of the
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Welcome to March's edition of the Water Demand Management Bulletin!

This month saw the 2017 Annual Waterwise Conference which was held in London. It was attended by just over 80 delegates from throughout the water industry and academia from in the UK and abroad. This edition will report on the topics of discussion and presentations of interest which took place throughout the day. 

The new Managing Director of Waterwise Nicci Russell introduced the conference saying that “…there are lots of interesting developments which will have a profound impact on water efficiency; political changes, changes to the water market, the emergence of new water companies and the consolidation of others, the rise of digital solutions in the water sector and a wider understanding of the role of customer behaviour…”                      
When Nicci was asked about what in particular she was keen to work on at Waterwise she said “…behavioural change and better understanding the link between behaviour and water use in the home is an interesting topic …” This builds on a key piece of research undertaken by UKWIR last year which looked at the integration of behavioural change into demand forecasting and water efficiency practices.  (The final report (reference 14/WR/01/14) is available from the UKWIR website.)

Nicci also said that “…vulnerability versus affordability is a major issue for the UK water industry. Helping customers to manage their bills and pay them to avoid bad debt which is an ever growing problem….” Helping vulnerable customers remains important as customers who are struggling with their household bills are often advised to stop paying their water bill.  Helping them to pay and thus avoiding bad debt is important for a sustainable and resilient water industry. It is estimated that the average water bill is £21 higher to pay for bad debt (reference is
here).

We are always looking for improvements and your suggestions and comments are still very welcome. In future editions of the bulletin we would like to include personal insights to highlight both successes, opportunities, challenges and barriers to demand management across the industry. If you have anything to contribute or would like to volunteer for an interview then please get in touch. We will include more news items from overseas next month, but we thought that the Conference was too important not to report on thoroughly!  
Panel discussions
Research and innovation panel   
The aim of this session was to get an overview of the next big research themes as well as to hear about some existing projects and to identify how the outputs could feed into water utility activities. One clear observation is that there are a number of ongoing academic research projects which are not receiving the coverage they deserve. We will aim to help address this by reporting on a different academic research project each month.

Many of these research projects depend on EU funding, and no mention of the EU is possible at the moment without a discussion about Brexit! Several of the academics present at the conference believed that the UK’s exit from the EU will have a ‘significant impact’ on innovation due to the EU research framework being compromised. Others however were more optimistic believing that they will find a way around it.

Another point highlighted at the conference was that academic research programmes often run over much longer periods than the industry’s 5-year AMP cycles. The industry must either be more patient or academia should try to adjust to industry timescales.  Better knowledge of research programmes could help with planning for innovation throughout the industry. 


Engagement panel
This panel session looked at how to engage the public to get involved in large scale water efficiency programmes. The session consisted of short presentations of existing projects to give practical ideas for engagement strategies.

Tim Wagstaff from Essex & Suffolk Water gave a brilliant presentation about what innovative methods they use to try and encourage their customers to uptake water efficiency initiatives. On average they achieve an industry leading uptake rate of about 20%, but how to reach out to that remaining 80% of customers? They have tried everything from personalised post it notes, eye catching packaging to offering incentives. Essex & Suffolk have also carried out some research to try and determine why the 80% are not receptive to the messages. The three main reasons given were: 1) no time to do it 2) it put on top of a pile of other things and forgotten about 3) added onto a ‘to-do’ list but don’t get around to it.  There was then some discussion about if the customers actually perceive if there is a problem or not and if the customers actually believe they can make a difference or achieve a saving. 

Implementation panel    
This session discussed using applied research and practical experience to optimise the implementation of water efficiency projects for the public, business and agriculture. It looked at the learn from different sectors and discuss the outputs from a range of projects from large scale metering and the use of sensors, mass retrofitting and looking at the water-energy-food nexus. This session also included a presentation from David Black at Ofwat about financing water efficiency. The four key themes of PR19 are resilience, innovation, customer service and affordability. A key question arising from this presentation was how to encourage innovation and accept the risk of failure that is associated with innovation – a challenge in the often risk-averse water industry.  
Other items of interest 
Thames Water's smart water meters and in home retrofit programme
Andrew Tucker is the Water Efficiency and Affordability Manager at Thames Water and he spoke about Thames Water’s smart metering programme which is being rolled-out with bespoke water efficiency initiatives. The programme enables efficient, intelligent, data driven identification and reduction of leakage. It also aims to reduce customer usage through tailored metered bills and active engagement. So far Thames have installed 115,000 smart meters and aim to have installed 414,000 by March 2020. Since April 2016 Thames collect 2.3 million meter reads per day and have had to design and build a whole new meter data management system to cope with this.

Alongside the metering programme, Thames Water also offers ‘Smarter Home Visits’ (SHVs) which is the single largest water efficiency initiative in the UK water sector. The SHVs include an in-home retrofit of water saving devices and a personalised water audit and water savings plan, including the identification and fixing of leaks whether in the home or on supply pipes.  Over 250,000 water saving devices have been installed so far. 

An interesting finding from the metering programme is that 10% of homes have continuous flow (i.e. a leak) and of these, there is a 50:50 split between leaks on customer supply pipes and leaks within the home. Internal plumbing losses are mainly from leaking toilets with volumes up to 800 litres of water wasted per day. On average, fixing a leaking toilet saves 215 litres/toilet/day and 80-90% of leaky loos are dual flush. 

Finally, Andrew talked about the ‘Smarter Business Visits’ (SBVs) which Thames are just starting to roll out with large water savings. An average water saving per SBV is 3,600 litres per day. Due to the large water savings achieved Thames are still planning to target non-households for water efficiency visits after retail separation.

Water in the Building Regulations
Since the demise of the Code for Sustainable Homes there was discussion on how water efficient devices can be encouraged in new homes. Requirement G2 and Regulations 36 and 37 of the Building Regulation 2010 details what water efficiency standards now have to be met in new homes. The amendments to Part G of the Building Regulations have introduced a minimum water efficiency standard for new homes for the first time. It requires that the average water use is no more than 125 litres per person per day and this volume includes a fixed factor of water for outdoor use of 5 litres per person per day. 

Section 2.8 of Part G2 includes an ‘optional requirement’ which only applies if imposed as part of granting planning permission. This standard is 110 l/p/d including the fixed 5 litres for outdoor use. This lower volume is likely to be imposed due to water resource pressures in that area. The Greater London Authority (GLA) for example have adopted 110 as a standard for all new builds within its area as it is an area of water stress. These standards will not be the actual potable water consumption as behaviour will have an effect on the amount of water which will be used throughout the home. There is also a risk that water efficient devices and fittings may be changed for ones the home occupier prefers.  You can find the Regulations by following this link.

A big challenge for the industry is how to encourage developers to incorporate water saving devices into their design, in the absence of a regulatory ‘stick’. Southern Water are researching how to persuade developers to go beyond 110 l/p/d by using the ‘carrot’ of a 50% reduction in infrastructure charges. They are seeing if this is enough of an incentive to adopt measures such as rain water recycling and low water using fixtures and fittings. Often large developers have pre-defined specifications for homes and so this makes it difficult to be innovative.

H2020 EU Project: Managing crOpwater Saving with Enterprise Services (MOSES)
The MOSES project (2015-2018) is an EU funded project with the research aims to integrate, adapt and improve existing technologies to optimise irrigation in the agricultural areas of Europe. With increasing pressure on water resources facilitating wise water management is of key importance. The project has developed an innovative and integrated platform to provide a wide range of tools, data and technological resources for farmers. These tools include; probabilistic seasonal forecasting, numerical weather prediction, crop water requirements, irrigation modelling and an online GIS support system. This enables farmers to forecast their seasonal water requirements over their specific river basin which allows for better planning of water allocation which will in turn mitigate against the risk of water shortages and improve efficient water use. Read more here.

This ties in with another project which brings together a European view on dealing with water scarcity at farm level. Their report presents the results of the EIP-AGRI Focus Group on 'Water and Agriculture: adaptive strategies at farm level' and you can read it here. The applications of both projects could be used in agricultural areas in the UK e.g. Anglian Water area which is highly arable and water stressed.
Upcoming events 
The WATEF Study Trip 2017 has been announced and will be visiting Valencia, Spain. 5 - 7 April.  Read more about it and register here.

Next steps for natural environment policy in England - Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum Keynote Seminar, 27 April 2017, London. Register here.

IWA Efficient 2017 – 18 - 20 July 2017 - University of Bath.  See here for further details.
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