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.