‘By 2050 the UK water deficit is anticipated to be 4017 mega litres per day’, was the stark announcement at the National Water Framework Consultation launch in January 2022. The plans to upgrade our water supply to meet this demand are reliant on the reduction in current usage levels. That means reducing Per Capital Consumption (PCC) to 110 litres per day from its current average of 150, is imperative if we are to meet future water demand.

The challenge to water suppliers of achieving reductions in PCC is not only difficult, but potentially expensive. As a regulatory requirement there is the potential of financial rewards for success, and conversely hefty penalties for failure.

Despite the recent focus on educating the public on how to improve our lifestyle to minimise our impact on the environment, the general day to day use of water is rarely mentioned. Multiple bathrooms, automatic washing machines and even designer gardens can lead to unthinking daily usage, this has been exacerbated by the number of people home based over the last 2 years.

The cost of water is also relatively cheap, especially when compared to other utility bills. So, the consumers’ mind is focused on energy reduction over water consumption.

Although the financial cost of supplying and cleaning water is relatively low, the environmental impact isn’t – 40gm of carbon for each 1m3, whether that’s making it ready for consumption or to return it to the environment.

‘Smart metering’ has been shown to have some impact on domestic consumption. However, the cost and time scales of introducing a fully ‘smart metered’ network are prohibitive. An aging infrastructure with multi household supplies are amongst the many factors that ensure that mandated metering – let alone ‘smart metering’ is at best an expensive, medium-term objective.

Short term gains are possible.

Our water companies are regulated to provide a minimum level of water, but in many areas due to network structure and gravity fed systems supply is much greater. So, run a hose for five minutes at the bottom of the hill, and your lawn will be greener that the gardener that does the same at the top. These ‘time controlled’ uses, e.g. teeth cleaning, taking a shower, running a tap to rinse dishes could be standardised down if all households received the same acceptable, ‘standardised’ supply.

Defra’s target is an average 33L reduction in PCC. Groundbreaker’s NRv2 LoFlo is a surprisingly simple method of working towards that target. Independent research carried out by WRc, showed a theoretical reduction of 2-4% of typical water usage. However, recent field trials by a major UK water company are showing reductions in excess of 37L per day per household (for one or two person households) – a saving in PCC in excess of 10%

NRv2 LoFlo regulates the level of flow entering customer premises – regardless of network pressure, meaning a reduction in the level of water used by customers when ‘variable use’ appliances (i.e. showers, taps, hosepipes) are used. As the flow of water into the premises is limited, then the amount used by the customer is also limited – but without providing a degradation of service, and more importantly not requiring any intervention or behavioural change on the part of the customer, leading to ‘natural’ reduction in per capital consumption.

A number of flow modulation ranges are available which enable the perfect balance between usage reduction and service provision. As an added benefit, the NRv2 LoFlo can also provide whole site protection against contamination by back flow.

The NRv2 LoFlo can be easily and simply retrofitted to any meter installation, or meter exchange when upgrading or remediating underground meter chambers. Thus, allowing Water Companies to manage demand with little or no impact on consumers and at minimal cost to the water undertakers – effectively a 3 in 1 solution.

Groundbreaker products are compliant with all Regulations and defined criteria and are used extensively across the whole of the UK water supply network – whether that be North of Scotland or the Channel Islands.

Steve Leigh FIWater, Managing Director Groundbreaker Systems

Groundbreaker Systems won the HBF’s ‘Utility of the Year’ in 2018.