Water Talkers


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Creating a sense of value towards water - written by Haroon Atif (Asset Engineer at Affinity Water)

Posted by Leanne Merrill Mar 20, 2015

Water is a precious resource. Less than 0.01% of water on earth is accessible freshwater, and with the global population projected to rise to over 7.5 billion people by 2020, there will be less water available per person. Combined with an unpredictable climate and a growing population, it’s important that we all manage our water supplies. Other reasons to save water in the UK include: 


  • If you use less water you are likely to save on your energy bills too. According to the Energy Saving Trust, approximately 21% of a household heating bill relates to heating water for showers, baths and hot water taps. This does not include kettles, washing machines and dishwashers, which use additional energy. 
  • Carbon emissions are produced from pumping, treating and heating water in the home. The energy used to heat water emits an average of 875kg of CO2 per household per year - equivalent to the CO2 emissions produced from driving over 1,700 miles in an average family car.


Our experience with water here in the UK, however, bolsters the perception that water is in plentiful supply.We turn on the tap and a seemingly interminable supply of water comes out. How, then, can we create a sense of value towards water?

People have different reasons for saving water. Some do it for financial reasons; others for environmental reasons. Arguably the strongest factor, however, that encourages people to save water is experience. Let me explain…

Stephanie and I (both Asset Engineers at Affinity Water) visited Stevenage Town Centre earlier this week to promote water efficiency. Among the many people we spoke with, we came across an individual who placed water saving high on his agenda, even managing to convince his wife to install six water butts in their garden.

Upon asking what it was that encouraged him to be so water efficient, he recalled his younger days. At the age of 11 in 1947, post-war rationing was gradually being withdrawn, yet access to water was still limited. He recalled having to wait for a container of water that would be delivered to his family by train. A fresh supply would come once a week. Without any running water, this individual had no option but to be economical with his consumption.

This individual experienced a scarcity of water in 1947 and that experience has stayed with him. He valued water then and despite the ease with which we obtain water nowadays, he still values water.

The question, therefore, is how can people here in the UK experience scarcity of water despite the ease with which we obtain it? Whatever the mechanism, experience can raise the value one holds towards water. At Affinity Water we’re always looking for new and innovative ways to engage with people and encourage water efficiency. If you have any stories, comments or ideas relating to value creation around water, we’d love to hear them.

image from http://www.tanks-direct.co.uk

This post was edited on Apr 7, 2015 by katie@100open.com

This post has 5 subscribers

Comments (17)

Andrew O'Connor says... Mar 22, 2015

wow great post, very informative and insightful

Leanne Merrill says... Mar 24, 2015

Thanks for your lovely comment! I'll be sure to pass this on to our water saving crusaders :)

Louis Allen says... Mar 22, 2015

amazing reading well done

Leanne Merrill says... Mar 24, 2015

Thanks, I am glad you enjoyed it :)

Bob Matthews says... Mar 23, 2015

Excellent idea, understandable and easy to implement.

Chloe Booker says... Mar 24, 2015

Hi DrBob. What do you think is easy to implement here? Are you thinking that we should deliberately make water scarce, to give people the experience of it? Really interested to hear your ideas...

mark burns says... Mar 24, 2015

good idea, interesting 

Leanne Merrill says... Mar 24, 2015


Janet Bradley says... Mar 24, 2015

Very interesting..

I have just come back from a weekend of caravanning... my caravan does have water... if someone (i.e. my husband), goes and fills up the barrel. The barrel contains 40 litres and we have an on board hot water tank of 14 litres. It is amazing how quickly you can use up that water!

When I first started using the caravan, my husband was out filling the tank repeatedly.... we were away during a cold month - I think it was February... and I felt very guilty that he was having to go out, late at night, in the cold and wet to fill the tank.... so I started being much more economical with the water... realised that even though I had water, and I had a tap, I didn't have limitless water on tap... I had to economise with what I had.

So... can you consider people going on one night away breaks where they have a limited supply of water, and they can't refill?

Leanne Merrill says... Mar 24, 2015

What an amazing way of thinking about it! I too have been in a caravan with a limited supply of water and never even thought about how this could be an excellent way of teaching people what it's like to actually have to go and get the water you want to use.

Have you noticed that you are more economical at home too as a result, or is it only a behaviour change when you are in the caravan and you know you have a limited supply?

Janet Bradley says... Mar 24, 2015

I think it has made me more water conscious at home too.... sometimes we go away in the caravan for a couple of weeks, and as a result, the water saving concepts that you adopt while you away have started to become more of a habit.

If this was done as part of a water saving initiative and that you asked people to learn from the experience... and in fact they made pledges as a result of the experience, then they probably wouldn't need two weeks to break habits!! :-)

Leanne Merrill says... Mar 25, 2015

That's great to hear! This is a really good idea, thanks so much for sharing and keep up the great water saving work :)

Janet Bradley says... Mar 25, 2015

Hey thanks.

George Richardson says... Mar 26, 2015

Superb article giving facts i was unaware of and a superb and logical train of thought.The story you relate in some parts cover remarks made both by myself and Snowdrop 36 who having lived through the war and all the subsequent rationing learned to value and carefully look after and save anything we were lucky to receive. Lessons well learned in times of need and never forgotten.

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Leanne Merrill says... Mar 26, 2015

Great comment George! It's really good to see how these factors have meant that you have stuck with the idea of water as a scarce resource ever since and I think shows the importance of education and focussing on children to develop these habits early so that they last a lifetime :)

anita lewis says... Mar 26, 2015

Really interesting post Leanne.Caravaning and camping do seem to be the easiest ways for people to experience limited water supply-unless they have been unlucky enough to have been in an area cut off due to a burst pipe etc!

Leanne Merrill says... Mar 27, 2015

Thanks Bambi, we have some real experts here at Affinity Water who did a great job writing this post! I agree that situations which put you in a water scarce time, be it camping or a burst main, really do make you re-evaluate how much water you use! How do you think we can replicate this learning onto times when water is more readily available?

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