Embargo to 00.01 Tuesday 22 March 2005: In spite of the relief that spring seems to be here at last, alarm bells are ringing about the possibility of drought this year. Government action on Environment Agency advice to amend Building Regulations would save thousands of litres of water – at no extra cost. 22 March, World Water Day 2005, is the start of a decade of action on ‘Water for Life’, and CIWEM (the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management) is calling for the UK Government to play its part in properly valuing water and preventing avoidable waste.

According to the Environment Agency’s Policy Statement on Sustainable Communities, published last October: "Government should introduce mandatory standards for water efficiency in new homes through new Building Regulations. By 2005, new Building Regulations should be in place to achieve at least 20-25% saving on current average water use per person. Our research shows this can be achieved at no extra cost."

CIWEM’s Executive Director Nick Reeves said:

"With hundreds of thousands of new homes being proposed for the south east as part of the ODPM’s ‘Sustainable Communities Plan’, water resources are going to be under increasing pressure. It’s only commonsense to enforce measures that are cheap and effective at saving water as soon as possible – why wait?

"Our climate is changing. Already global temperatures are rising. In the next 30 years we expect to see more frequent droughts. By making water efficiency mandatory now, as the Environment Agency recommends, we can at least start to make a difference. Assurances that the long-awaited Sustainable Buildings Code will sort things out aren’t good enough, since there won’t be any legal obligation to abide by its recommendations," he added.

No doubt Environment Minister Elliott Morley will face some tough questions on these issues at the conference Water Resources in England and Wales: Challenges for the next 10 years, an event that CIWEM is co-sponsoring with the Institution of Civil Engineers.

CIWEM’s campaign on The Value of Water includes calls for the Government to:

• bring together regulators, water companies and educators in a Water-Saving Trust to co-ordinate messages, resources and initiatives
• review its urban development plans in the light of water availability and projected demand and builds early consultation with water utilities into the planning process
• further promote the uptake of water meters by domestic consumers
• research and introduce innovative tariffs which reward efficient water use (cf Anglian Water’s SoLow and Mid Kent’s Low User tariff)
• support research into and implementation of the use of non-potable supplies (greywater, wastewater) and continue efforts to reduce leakage levels.


1. The Environment Agency’s Policy Statement on Sustainable Communities is at http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/commondata/105385/sus_com_902901.pdf.
2. Water Resources in England and Wales: Challenges for the next 10 years is on 26 April 2005. See http://www.ice.org.uk/downloads/Water_Resources_2005_Programme.pdf.
3. For facts and figures, and information on the Value of Water campaign see http://www.ciwem.org.uk/press/campaign/future.asp.
Company: Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM)
Contact Name: Ilana Cravitz
Contact Email: ilana@ciwem.org
Contact Phone: 020 7269 5820

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