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Water, water …. er, nowhere,

The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was, is lost, for none now live who remember it.

The irony of all this sultry hot weather the UK is experiencing currently is that there are whispers of hosepipe bans. It really doesn’t seem that long ago that we were publishing blogs on this site about the need to do something about flood management.

It hasn’t happened yet, certainly not with my local water company thus far, but there is always the possibility. The long term forecast doesn’t show any signs of the hot and humid weather letting up. Although groundwater supplies are still, according to the Environment Agency, holding up, it’s in all our interests to think about how we use the wet stuff.

The water  companies aren’t panicking yet as one dry month doesn’t automatically mean the water supply dries up. In fact, the Environment Agency reports that the overall water resources situation across England is looking “generally healthy”. Yes, we’re seeing lower groundwater levels, but that’s what you expect at this time of year and they are still well within expected parameters.

Mind you, even in the midst of sweltering summer sun, we get odd spots of rain. And I mean very odd. This flood happened in one end of  Tunbridge Wells in a storm lasting 15 minutes on Thursday July 5th while less than 2 miles away, I still had to water the garden.

However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t all be thinking about using water more wisely, not just in the heat of Summer, but all the time. Water is a resource that we should be using sensibly.

This means water companies investing in repairing their pipes and stopping leaks. It means them doing that quickly and not allowing water mains to leak for days on end until they get round to it. Southern Water I’m looking at you!

It also means manufacturers coming up with new ways of saving water whilst still allowing their customers the same degree of “user comfort” – as someone at an exhibition once said to me: “using less water, but you feel wetter”.  Merchants also need access to these products in order to sell them and the concept on to their customers, whether they be trade or retail. There is some amazingly clever technology out there that does just this. Some of it is at the top-end of the price spectrum but it needs to be all the way through the price chain if it is to make any difference in the wider world.

The drive to encourage households to use less electricity has been encouraged by the take-up of smart-homes, smart-meters and that spooky Alexa thing of Amazon’s. A smart meter will tell me exactly how much electricity is being used when we’ve got the TV tuned to the football, the radio to the tennis, the XBox on Fortnite and the iPad on YouTube and mean the children haven’t got a leg to stand on when I scream at them for leaving their lights on all day. We’ve had water meters for years, but they tend to be attached to the main pipes and underground. Surely the technology to let us know easily how much water we are using and wasting can’t be that far away?

Alexa, turn the tap off.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Editor-in-Chief across the BMJ portfolio.

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