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A watery grave?

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood leads onto greatness

So today Thames Water Anglian Water and Southern Water have announced that they “believe it to be appropriate to end the current hosepipe ban sooner than anticipated”.

Well, thinking of the river that the High Street turned into this week, and to coin a phrase – “No, sh*t Sherlock”.

In some ways it’s a strange time to be thinking about saving water, but in other ways, it’s the perfect time. If the quixotic nature of the British weather over the last few months tells us anything, it’s that our climate has changed and is continuing to change and that we need to learn to adapt to that.

Whether you believe that the changing climate is down to global warming caused by our modern world pollutants or that it’s just part of the planet’s general evolution, the fact is that things ain’t what they used to be.

In the west we are dreadfully blasé about the way we use water. And I suppose that’s the problem for the water companies. Introducing a hosepipe ban is a headline-grabber, but it doesn’t address the real issue. Although it does highlight the problems, stopping people from using a hosepipe to water the tomatoes and the runner beans won’t really affect the bigger picture.

The real question for the water companies is how do they get us to use less water without realising that that is what we are doing? Because it seems to me that is the real key.

If you can get the people to change the way they live, whilst retaining the levels of comfort that they are used to, then you will get real, lasting effects and change for the better.

In many ways, it will come down to not actually offering them a choice. I mean it’s all very well to offer them a range of water-saving or more water-efficient products, but all too often, they’ll end up voting with their pockets for the cheaper option. Water, and energy come to that – saving is nice when you can afford it.

So maybe, as well as a Green Deal, the Government should be thinking about schemes to get us to upgrade on the water-saving front too.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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