Water policy reforms

Water policy reforms

How educational institutions can play their part by Caroline Gray-Mason, Director of Water Services at Cenergist

The UK Government, alongside the Environment Agency and Ofwat, recently announced an ambitious programme of reform for water companies, with the goal of building back greener from the pandemic. Having reviewed the Water Industry National Environment Programme (WINEP), the reforms set out the actions that water companies need to undertake to improve the environment.

However, it is unrealistic to assume that a single authority can deal with the threats of water scarcity. Rather, everyone must play their part. Educational institutions have a wider part to play, and it is important for them to understand why change is necessary.

The Need for Change
According to guidance outlined by the UK Government, if not taken seriously, water stress can lead to water scarcity, and could displace an estimated 700 million people by 2030. According to a study conducted by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), students living on campus use up to 180 litres of water a day, 30 litres more than the wider industry estimate. It is clear that the burden of reform should be a responsibility that is also undertaken by university campuses and wider educational institutions. Furthermore, long term consequences can also be significant. According to the Environment Agency, avoiding taking action on water related concerns can lead to severe shortages of water by 2050.

Uncertain changes in the climate are also a serious threat to water in the UK. The nation lacks the water storage infrastructure that is necessary for dryer climates. Now in the post pandemic era, where hygiene has gained primary focus, water used during cleaning and washing has increased. Universities, which are welcoming students returning to campuses, have a responsibility of regulating their water consumption to minimise wastage.

The risks are clear, but it needs to be understood that the responsibility for introducing significant change doesn’t fall on one single authority. Everyone needs to play their role, particularly the education industry. They must introduce initiatives that increase water efficiency, water conservation and work towards achieving net zero. University campuses do need to take proactive actions towards water efficiency, due to their higher water consumption rate in comparison to other commercial sectors. This usage could potentially spike even more in the post-pandemic landscape, where an increased focus has been placed upon handwashing.

Enabling Campuses to Play Their Role
Action is required. Yet institutions now find themselves asking questions about how they can do their bit to save water and help the environment. According to Ofwat’s strategy, innovation plays a significant role in overcoming the challenges in a cost-effective and environment-friendly manner. Currently, water control flow technology (WCFT) is proving to be one of the most effective solutions available. WCFT leverages water flow regulators to maintain a specified water flow rate, regardless of fluctuations in the supply line. By regulating water flow in a residential home, households can save between 40 to 60 litres of water a day. By introducing the technology to large-scale university campuses, the WCFT only becomes more effective.

In case of high pressure in the line, regulators manage flow by opening and closing in response to the amount coming through - allowing the water to flow at a steady pace. This regulated pressure not only saves water and lowers bills, but it also improves the user experience by providing consistent pressure, while also eliminating temperature fluctuations. Installing these devices can be hugely beneficial for maintaining water flow, regardless of water consumption levels during peak times. With that in mind, WCFT also proves to be ideal for sprinkler systems and tankless water heaters.

“It makes good business sense to invest in energy efficiency at the time when energy bills continue to rise”, says Mark Sait, CEO, SaveMoneyCutCarbon. A timely and important consideration is imperative in the current environment where energy bills have seen a 12% rise in price cap - a maximum amount charged by a supplier for an energy unit. University campuses can reduce a significant amount of water consumption through the use of water control flow regulators. By investing in WCFT, institutions can not only save costs, but also demonstrate their efforts in corporate social responsibility.

Water control flow technology: A long term solution
Now with lockdown restrictions lifted and students returning to campuses, it becomes crucial to establish appropriate measures to eliminate the threat of water stress. In a post-pandemic society, hygiene is prioritised more than ever before and increased cleanliness and handwashing have become the common routine. This can understandably increase water usage in campuses.

As students return to the campus, WCFT can be used to regulate the unwanted water consumption. Campuses with these retrofitted upgrades can save on costs while providing seamless experience of water facilities to students. With small pipework and low capital costs, water flow regulators are a long term solution for campuses that provide a significant benefit. Combined with a strong return on investment (ROI) provided over the long term, this technology provides a highly cost effective solution for commercial buildings such as university campuses.

In heating systems, water pressure plays an imperative role. The pressure drop due to fluctuations in the water pipeline causes the pump to generate more pressure to recover the pressure loss. This not only consumes extra water but also huge amounts of energy. Water flow regulators, installed on the radiators of the boilers, balance the pressure and allow consumers to regulate the hot water flow. The energy consumed in heating plays a significant part in reducing carbon footprint, contributing towards achieving the UK’s net zero goal for 2030. From water flow regulators, university campuses can leverage not only reduced water bills and increased efficiency but also minimised emissions and reduced energy bills.

Building for a Better Future
Water consumption should be at the front of mind for everyone. University campuses are not exempt. By reducing the amount of water consumed within buildings, the supply issues can be decreased for water networks. In other words, water saved from wastage in these buildings can be utilised in the needed areas and can reduce stress for water networks. This enables greater ability to reach the goals set by the water policy reforms.

Water poverty and the threat of water becoming a scarce resource seems to be a reminder that the concern needs to be given higher priority. Unnecessary water wastage due to the fluctuations in the water flow is leading the UK very close to the water stress and far from the net zero goals. In this scenario, water flow reforms become hugely significant and retrofitted water flow regulators can play an important role in maximising the water efficiency and reducing emissions.

For further information please visit www.cenergist.com 

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