Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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Water Saving Group Celebrates its Achievements at its Last Meeting

Water Saving Group Celebrates its Achievements at its Last Meeting

DEPARTMENT FOR ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS News Release (372/08) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 21 November 2008

The Water Saving Group, reviewed its achievements as it met for the last time yesterday (Thursday 20 November). In the last three years members of the group have worked together on a programme of measures to promote water efficiency in households.

The group has driven progress in a number of areas:

* Waterwise and the water companies have developed an evidence base for water efficiency measures and interventions, where previously none existed or were incomplete.

* The Environment Agency published a methodology for identifying water stressed areas in England for the purposes of metering;

* The Government amended regulations allowing water companies in areas of serious water stress to consider compulsory water metering as part of their water resources management plans;

* Ofwat has introduced activity-based water efficiency targets for the first time;

* Valuable in-depth research has been completed by the Consumer Council for Water to help understand consumers' attitudes to water use, and their views on willingness to play a part in using water wisely;

* As part of the Housing Green Paper, Defra and CLG committed to a number of measures to improve water efficiency in new homes, including changes to the Building Regulations and setting performance standards for key fittings like toilets, taps and showers.

Environment Minister Jane Kennedy said:

"I am grateful for the very effective work that the Water Saving Group has done, making a real difference by providing a much better framework for encouraging water efficiency.

Our water supply is limited and under further threat from climate change, and the changes made by the group provide a sound framework for future work by Government and our partners."

Director of Waterwise, Jacob Tompkins said:

"By bringing together key stakeholders and Government departments to address a specific issue the Water Saving Group has delivered a number of major achievements for water efficiency. Among other things, its work has contributed directly to ensuring new and existing homes will waste less water in the future, has improved our understanding of customers' views on water use and it has enabled the water companies to develop large scale water efficiency programmes to help customers reduce water wastage."

Pamela Taylor, Water UK Chief Executive, said:

"The group has been a breath of fresh air in getting all interests to work together towards a shared goal. In the face of climate change the whole of society has an interest in, and responsibility for, using water more efficiently."

Tony Smith, CCWater Chief Executive said:

"CCWater believes that the Ministerial led Water Saving Group has been extremely successful in taking the issues related to water saving and bringing a combined focus on finding practical solutions"

Ofwat Chief Executive Regina Finn said:

"The group has done good work in producing practical proposals to help consumers use water more efficiently.

We look forward to improved performance from water companies against the new and challenging water efficiency targets we set."

Paul Leinster, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency said:

"I commend the work of the Group, but there is still much to do to embed its findings into the way that we use water. The pressures of climate change and population growth will put a huge strain on our water resources, particularly in south east England, and it's essential that water companies work with their customers to help them use water more efficiently."

The first Government group of its kind, the Water Saving Group was established in October 2005 to promote water efficiency in households. It brought together skills and experience from organisations such as Defra, the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, the Department for Communities and Local Government, Ofwat, Environment Agency, Consumer Council for Water, Water UK, representatives of water companies, and Waterwise.

Although the life of the group has now come to an end, all of its members remain committed to working towards the common goal of reducing the current level of per capita consumption in households. Each member has identified a number of key areas for future work according to their roles and responsibilities.

Notes to editors

1. The package of measures in the group's action plan will contribute towards the Government's ambition to reduce per capita consumption to 130 litres per person per day by 2030 through cost effective measures

2. Initially established for two years in October 2005, the group was extended for a further year in November 2007 to build on its successes and complete a revised action plan.

3. Further work by group members includes:


a) Defra is reviewing the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999 which cover, for example, the maximum water use of toilets, urinals and washing machines;

b) Defra will issue guidance on water efficiency to public bodies in 2009;

c) CLG will amend the Building Regulations in 2009 to include a requirement for a minimum standard of water efficiency of 125 litres per person per day in new homes;

d) Waterwise, CCWater and Water UK will work together to develop a long term national strategy to encourage a more efficient use of water;

e) Waterwise will maintain and disseminate the evidence base for large-scale water efficiency and work with manufacturers and retailers to improve the provision of water efficiency information;

f) The Environment Agency will aim to increase awareness further and share good practice on water efficiency among businesses and other organisations, including those in the leisure and tourism and retail sectors through their annual water efficiency awards;

g) Ofwat will ensure that appropriate incentives are in place for water companies to improve the promotion of water efficiency and

h) Water UK will continue to support the water industry water efficiency network which shares best practice across the country and to support and disseminate Waterwise's Evidence Base for large scale water efficiency.

4. For more information visit:
http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/water/conserve/wsg/index.htm

5. The Final Waterwise evidence base report is available at
http://www.waterwise.org.uk/images/site/Policy/evidence_base/evidence%20base%20for%20large-scale%20water%20efficiency%20in%20homes%2C%20waterwise%2C%20october%202008.pdf



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