The imposition of hose-pipe bans in large parts of the country this summer has highlighted the underlying problem regarding the need to better manage the UK water supply. The Water authorities are tasked with reducing leaks in the infrastructure in order to reduce wastage, although this is partially funded by above inflation increases in water charges.
Jill Jones, Director at Environmental Consultants Peak Associates said “The water industry has been theoretically deregulated in England and Wales, in reality there are no alternative suppliers to the regional water companies, and therefore it is impossible to switch suppliers to obtain better terms, unlike the other utilities“.
The alternative is for businesses to look for measurable savings in their water charges by implementing the following strategies:
1. Look closely at the bills
The first step is to desk check the bills. Check that you are on the correct tariff, that the waste water abatement claim and surface water drainage charges are correct, that any meter changes have not been double-billed, that VAT is not charged (in the majority of situations) and that you have the correct size feed pipe to the water meter. Each supplier has its own set of terms and charging algorithms, which will vary in both complexity and the type of charges levied.
2. Reduce consumption
There are various tools to help estimate consumption depending upon the use of the water; whilst the estimating depends upon a number of assumptions it is a useful tool when comparison is made with ‘standard usage patterns’ and usage by similar sites. This will help identify any potential leaks, and pinpoint areas where usage could be reduced (e.g. by changing the timing of automatic flushing systems, installing water-saving devices to reduce flow). Finally review the content of waste effluent if you are in a production environment.
3. Surface Water Charges
Surface water is the water that falls as rain and is collected by drains and gullies on your property and removed by United Utilities, via a public sewer, protecting your property from damage. However, if you can show that no surface water from your property drains to a public sewer, you may be entitled to a reduction in charges.
Introducing these changes into your business can have a significant financial impact on your water bills and help protect the environment.
Property Aspects Magazine appreciates the help from Peak Associates in writing this article