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In the News

Information Failure - Better Labelling Needed to Reduce Water Use

Graham Watson

30th August 2023

Efficient policymaking is driven by the quality of information associated with it, and this Guardian article flags up the fact that Britons consume the most water in Europe, perhaps as a consequence of a lack of information.

As a result, experts are of the view that we need to be clearer in highlighting how much water we use in various forms - in terms of flushing the toiler, using the shower, and using domestic appliances. Without looking to reduce our consumption from 142 litres to 110 litres, something that has happened in Australia, where there's been a push to provide more information about water consumption, many argue that there's an increased risk of future water shortages.

Background: What government policies might help reduce the amount of water used per person in the UK?

Here are some potential government policies that might help achieve this goal:

  1. Water Pricing and Metering: Implement water pricing that encourages efficient usage. Increasing water prices for high consumption levels can provide an economic incentive for individuals and businesses to reduce their water usage. Mandatory water metering can also help raise awareness of water consumption patterns and encourage conservation.
  2. Water-Efficient Appliances and Fixtures: Enforce regulations that require the installation of water-efficient appliances (toilets, showers, faucets, washing machines) in new buildings or during renovations. Offer incentives or rebates for individuals who voluntarily replace old, inefficient fixtures with water-saving alternatives.
  3. Greywater Systems and Rainwater Harvesting: Promote the use of greywater (wastewater from sources like sinks and showers) for non-potable purposes such as watering gardens or flushing toilets. Encourage rainwater harvesting systems to collect rainwater for similar uses.
  4. Public Awareness Campaigns: Launch educational campaigns to raise public awareness about the importance of water conservation. Provide information about simple actions individuals can take to reduce water usage, such as turning off taps while brushing teeth and fixing leaks promptly.
  5. Leak Detection and Repair Programmes: Establish programs to detect and repair leaks in public infrastructure and private properties. Leaks can result in significant water wastage over time.
  6. Water Use Restrictions: Implement temporary water use restrictions during periods of drought or water scarcity. These restrictions might include limits on outdoor watering, car washing, and non-essential water use.
  7. Research and Innovation: Fund research and development initiatives focused on water-saving technologies and practices. Support innovation in areas like desalination, water recycling, and water-efficient agriculture.
  8. Collaboration with Local Authorities: Collaborate with local authorities to tailor water conservation policies to the specific needs and conditions of different regions within the UK.

It's important to note that a comprehensive approach involving a combination of these policies, along with ongoing monitoring and evaluation, is likely to yield the best results in reducing water usage per person in the UK.

Graham Watson

Graham Watson has taught Economics for over twenty years. He contributes to tutor2u, reads voraciously and is interested in all aspects of Teaching and Learning.

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