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A sustainable water future for the education sector

Waterscan discuss a three-pronged approach to managing water sustainably

Posted by Stephanie Broad | February 06, 2016 | Sustainability

Unless it features heavily in the news agenda as a result of excessive flooding or droughts, we take water for granted here in the UK.  However, it is already more scarce than you may think. The Water Resources Group forecasts that global demand will outstrip supply by 2030, and this is further exasperated by the growing global population and the impacts of climate change. Add to this the fact that water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of the population in the last century, and it won’t be long before a desperate need to conserve water will be hitting the headlines.  

A three-pronged approach, incorporating sustainable water management, a proactive procurement strategy and embracing new technologies can help schools leverage financial savings while helping to protect our water resources.

Sustainable water management

Sustainable water management begins with measurement and transparency; it’s about knowing how much water is being used, where and when, and then prioritising where water reductions can occur. The best way to monitor a school’s water consumption is through automated meter readings, which provide usage data collated up to every 15 minutes.

Unusual patterns in water consumption and leakage can be identified immediately and rectified before unnecessary charges are levied. We have helped clients in the service and public sector save a staggering £1.38 million through better leakage management alone.

Water procurement strategy 

There’s another benefit to be had from measuring water consumption. In 2017, England’s water market is set to be deregulated in the same way as the gas and electricity markets were. This means that the monopolistic approach based on geographical location will no longer apply and non-residential customers will have the opportunity to choose and switch their water supplier.  

Water companies are renowned for billing inaccuracies, but most of these go unnoticed because customers are simply not aware of the differential between what they are paying for and what they use. Once again, we have saved over a quarter of a million pounds for the service and public sector simply by interrogating consumption data and correcting billing practices.

The new ‘open market’ should benefit schools up and down the country but in order for the potential benefits to be realised, they will need good information to work with. Twelve months’ quality water consumption data will empower schools to enter negotiations with water retailers with confidence and structure their new contracts in a more profitable and environmentally sustainable way. 

Water efficient technologies

For schools wishing to take things a little further, an investment in technology could be beneficial. Today’s advanced water technologies can help create a sustainable, dependable and controllable source of water, facilitating stability in uncertain conditions.   

Rainwater harvesting can reduce mains water consumption by up to 30%. Here, rainwater is collected, filtered and fed back into the property through a simple yet robust treatment system, ensuring only the cleanest water is utilised for non-potable purposes such as flushing toilets and irrigation. 

The topic of water sustainability isn’t going to go away. It is likely that the subject will become more complex with changes in market structure and new technologies. There are real opportunities for schools to take a leading position and educate the next generation about the importance of water conservation and management. Whichever way you look at it, now is the time to be proactive and for schools to start thinking about their water use. 

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