Afternoon Session

Plenary Session 1: “Technology & People” The role of community engagement in the uptake of technology and behaviour change
Question 1: What technology are we talking about?
  • Apps,  Monitoring and Smart Meters
Question 2: What are the key drivers?
  • Informed general public
  • Behaviour change to use less
  • Adopting new technologies
  • Water conservation
Question 3: What are the barriers to uptake?
  • Trust in water company data
  • Indirect cost increases e.g. in water bill
  • Limitations in technologies e.g. type of water meter, access to and frequency of readings
  • Data granularity – processing big data, visualising data, keeping simple and accessible
Question 4: How do we engage with the community?
  • Relevant and accessible information
Question 5: What outcome are we looking for and why?
  • Water use reduction
  • Informed people make an informed efficient home

Plenary Session 2 – The role of water efficient fixtures and fittings in reducing diurnal peak flows
Question 1:  Why are diurnal peak flows important?
  •  Diurnal peak flows refers to the variations in daily water demand
  •  While there is a large peak flow early in the morning and a lower rise during the early evening, the group recognised that understanding and managing this peak was largely a water company problem in terms of water demand.  The group suggested that improved flow balancing for both water and wastewater could play a part in mitigating the issue.
  • The causes of the diurnal flow patterns are increasingly exacerbated by increasing population density and on the sewerage side older infrastructure that is: exceeding its design loading, has local issues like misconnections and damage through neighbouring excavation works, and increasingly has a wider variety of inappropriate materials put down the drain.  
  • It was recognised that customers do not give much thought to the issue, and largely expect this to be managed by water companies. 
  • Customers are amenable to low fixtures and fittings as long as the performance and in-use experience is at least as good or better as their current fittings.  They also have to be comparable or cheaper on price if buying the items at the same time.  There is a general perception that customers will assume that low-flow fittings give poorer user experience, regardless of whether they have tried the low-flow fixtures.
  • Managing the diurnal peak flow through fittings has different implications for commercial and domestic water usage. 
Question 2:  Who benefits?
  • Potentially everybody!  Reducing water demand through low fittings could potentially leave more water in the environment, while reducing abstraction and energy pumping costs for water companies.  Reduced consumption has the potential to lower both water and energy bills for domestic and commercial customers. 
  • The presentation that included the low-flow WC - Propelair® showed little impact on drains except where pre-existing problems exist.
  • On a wider scale, mass adoption of low flow fittings may start to exacerbate any pre-existing drainage or wider sewer infrastructure issues.  The low scale adoption to date means that a large degree of flushing by other appliances continues, potential leaks from items such as toilets and dripping taps reducing impact on existing infrastructure.
Question 3:  What technology are we talking about?
  • There is a wide variety of low flow fittings available from high tech systems to simple items like tap flow regulators and shower timers.
  • There is also a question about the wise use of technology, in line with the waste reduction hierarchy.  For example, customers who use an open ended hose to water the garden could switch to fitting a trigger nozzle or consider installation of drip irrigation as a way or reducing consumption.  Better still, some customers could gain greater benefits by stopping the requirement to water their garden in the first instance.  In this way, behavioural change can lead to greater savings through cutting needless consumption.  A good example of this was shown in the showering trial from one of the presentations in the morning session. 
  • Low flow shower heads are not having as much benefit as predicted when averaged flow rates are nearly equal with low flow showerhead volumes.  Reduction in shower duration (influenced by a behaviour altering showerhead) was more influential in reducing overall consumption.
Question 4: What are the barriers to the new technology?
  • Customer awareness and perception means that high demand is considered someone else’s issue, and that low flow products inherently do not sound appealing which reduces product adoption.
  • Customer considerations are usually at a small or local scale (thinking about issues in terms of their house, their family etc.) rather than considering the holistic wide scale benefits of reducing load on aging infrastructure as ultimately saving them money.
  • Leaving more water in the environment is also quite an abstract concept to customers’ perceiving little benefit or personal impact. So there is reliance on others (such as water companies or environment groups) to explain any benefit of doing so, and prove that their actions have contributed to positive change.
  • Planning policy in terms of new property development can be a potential barrier.  Within spatial planning (such as Water Cycle Studies), Local Authorities are generally looking to water companies to provide them with the evidence needed to enforce the most water efficient fittings on new developments.  The additional cost of the most efficient fittings means that developers strongly challenge the requirements, and without insufficient evidence the LAs feel they cannot enforce adoption.  Water Company business plans do not provide this evidence as the plans within them are generated to prevent future issues impacting customers.
Question 5: How do we move forward?
  • Planning policy changes could help the adoption of new low flow fittings, both in new and existing developments.  Exploratory assessment of future ‘water neutral’ developments have started using techniques like creating headroom for the new development to use.  This concept could be developed and employed through retrofitting low flow fittings in neighbouring communities.  This may be similar to the current Section 106 planning process (where e.g. development of a housing estate may require provision of a playground or recreation area).
  • More rigorous enforcement of product compliance in the supply chain may also decrease wastage.  This process may require a number of different activities such as improved product labelling and more enforcement of the regulations, for example, checking installations on new developments.

Plenary Session 3: “The potential for water re-use in bridging the supply gap”. What role can water re-use play in reducing water supply gaps?  [Presentation]

Overview of RWH and GWR: Both domestic and commercial RWH/GWR systems are established and BS recognised.  It is mandatory in Belgium where there is a large take up.  The UK BS standard for RWH is the only one in Europe – overall recreational water standard is the same as re-use standard e.g. as used in swimming pools.  RWH is however weather dependent.  RWH is more suitable for domestic premises where requirements are lower. GWR is defined as water from bathroom – which is then treated mechanically and biologically using membranes which aerate and water and remove bacteria (see: BS8525-1).   No real domestic GWR systems currently dominates the market. GWR dominates the commercial water reuse market e.g. student halls of residence where shower water is treated and reused.  Combined RWH/GWR systems are not weather dependent – operate 24/7 – and have a greater degree of sustainability as they use no chemicals (example cited of Park House).
GWR systems require more maintenance compared to RWH – e.g. facilities manager will need to monitor and maintain system to meeting Health & Safety criteria e.g. membranes will need to be cleaned.  Meeting on EU standard for GWR to take place in Strasbourg next week (w/c 14 December)

Other Water Reuse Technologies:
  • Condensate Re-Use:  Condensation from copper pipes can be fed into RWH system.
  • Cooling Towers:  These can be bled and water used for recycling
  • Vehicle Washing
  • Agricultural use
  • Combining RWH with attenuation:  Big tanks are being installed in order to save from a big storm event.  Tank water levels are closely monitored – making storm water a water asset.
Question 1:  What is the issue?
  • GWR - there is no system which can be used on a domestic level
  • Commercial developments and new developments need to have some sort of attenuation ability – we need to push the benefits of attenuation
  • People see problem with technology – what if they get it wrong – attenuation tanks must be emptied at correct level
  • New EU standard on its way to match BS standard
  • Cost of water is cheap – perception of water reuse technologies – difficult to maintain and costly
  • People would rather have a new kitchen installed than a RWH system
  • Size of tanks – most UK houses don’t have a basement area
  • Need to get developers on board at outset e.g. Eco Town Bicester
  • Shouldn’t Government be doing more to legislate?  Sustainability is suffering at the cost of new houses
Question 2: Who benefits?
  • Benefits in commercial markets are larger than those in domestic market
  • Water retailers – scope within new competition rules?
Question 3: What are the barriers to the uptake of non-potable water?
  • Price: Water reuse products are seen as expensive and pay-back period is extremely long
  • Unclear in voluntary codes
  • Perception that re-used water is not clean
  • New retail competition – how many retailers will want to get into the water reuse market – they won’t do anything which does not make them money or help them retain customers
  • Data – we need to push for data – firm evidence is the only way we can retailers on board
Question 4: Is there a business case?
  • Have to look on a local rather than national basis e.g. Thames Water or Welsh Water model
  • Not one size fits all – a package not one solution
  • Look for local business case e.g. combined RWH and attenuation
Question 5: How do we move forward?
  • We need to lobby Government to change legislation
  • We need to gather evidence

Plenary Session 4: “Future water challenges and the research response required” Major future water challenges and the research needs that must be addressed in order to meet those future challenges"

Question 1: What are the future water challenges?
  • Impact of retail household competition (barriers/drivers)
  • Future scenarios/foresight
  • Smart networks and innovation
  • Benefits and ethics of rationing water in supply
  • Water neutrality – systems and process that ensures that no buildings significantly increases demand in the network
  • Non potable use
  • Sensing Technologies: cheap easy to use and accurate
  • Link between affordability (economic) and use
  • Water neutrality: putting more into supply to neutralise demand
  • Non-domestic water use due to changes in use of water at work – perhaps assess individual water use rather than water use in home
  • Technology influences behaviour – smart technologies have improved – the ability to empathise with customers and deliver some efficiencies
  • Regulation needs to be adaptive, sometimes slow to change.
Question 2: Who should be involved?
  • Everyone. Climate change does not always resonate with the public but integrated, collective action is still required
Question 3: How do we capture and articulate research needs?
  • Give simple powerful messages
  • Create demand for information – cultural and behavioural change
  • On average people think about water for 9 minutes per year
  • Provide Evidence/facts
  • Use terminology carefully
Research Questions:
  1. Demonstrator sites for Integrated in-use projects for combined water efficiency solutions
  2. Smart sensors – cheap, accurate and non-intrusive (Urban Demonstrator)
  3. Water neutrality – joined-up feedback, thinking solutions, opportunity for area frameworks
  4. New developments – in-use performance of new “compliant” houses
  5. Long term continued savings from water efficiency interventions
  6. Long term maintenance of water reuse – “London Urban Demonstrator?”
  7. Bottom-up water resource management “Project Pebble”
  8. When/how do you activate financial investment in water – how to make a silicon valley for water in the UK
  9. Sharing knowledge and expertise – innovation space
  10. Strategies to maintain water efficiency in public discuss
  11. Benchmark and Auditing – Data protection