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Strictly embargoed until 00:01 24 September 2009 Nation of water wasters – new campaign to save 20 litres a day

Strictly embargoed until 00:01 24 September 2009 Nation of water wasters – new campaign to save 20 litres a day

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 23 September 2009

Britain is a nation of water wasters, according to a new Defra campaign launched today. The average household uses over 100,000 litres of water a year – that’s the equivalent of 317 pints or 150 litres per person per day.

Taking steps now to use water wisely will help ensure the future of our water supply, help to limit the effects of climate change and protect the natural environment – and save money in the process.

Fronted by TV presenter Kate Humble, the Act on CO2 campaign aims to help people to save 20 litres a day each with simple tips to reduce everyday water usage.

Despite being an island – and our reputation for wet weather – the UK actually has less available water per head than many European countries including France, Italy and Greece. London, for example, has less annual rainfall than Rome, Paris or Naples. As pressure intensifies on our already limited water resources from a growing population, infrastructure development, lifestyle choices and climate change water is an increasingly precious resource we need to conserve.

Environment Minister Huw Irranca-Davies said:

"We are already taking too much water from some of our rivers and groundwater to meet demand but we can’t maintain this without seriously harming our environment, especially as our climate becomes warmer and drier in places. If we don’t act now we could lose some of our precious biodiversity forever. Not only that but continued wasteful consumption of water is harming our climate for future generations due to the energy used in the supply process.

"It is vital that we all act now and take these simple steps to waste less water in our day to day lives to help protect our future."

The water saving campaign shows how even simple measures can make a big difference including:

- Turning off the tap while brushing your teeth saves six litres of water a minute

- Cutting your shower time by just one minute can save nine litres of water

- Using a bowl to wash your dishes rather than leaving the tap running saves up to six litres a minute.

- Using a watering can or a bucket in the garden or washing the car instead of a hosepipe saves 16 litres a minute.

Research shows that 87 percent of people don’t use a water-saving bag in their toilet cistern yet this could save one litre of water per flush with minimal outlay or effort. Similarly only 3 percent use an aerated/water efficient shower head which could save up to six litres of water a minute. Making simple water saving tips can also help you save money through reduced energy bills and water bills if you’re on a meter.

Kate Humble who is spear-heading the campaign said:

"Water is a precious resource but we all waste too much of it. Saving water at home doesn’t need to be a big sacrifice - just spending one minute less in the shower can make a big difference. Simple changes can really add up to a better environment - meaning more water for the wildlife and countryside around us as well as saving on carbon emissions generated in the treatment and transportation of water to our taps."

Notes to Editors

1. Facts and figures:

- The average person in the UK uses 150 litres of water a day.

- The average person in Germany uses 127 litres a day.

- By 2020 it is estimated that increasing population and housing growth will mean the demand for water increases by 5% - that’s 800million extra litres of water a day.

- The embedded emissions (energy consumption in treatment processes and in re-heating in our homes etc) in the use of hot water in our homes for personal and household washing, cooking and cleaning contributes around 35 million tonnes of greenhouse gases a year.

- The average family uses 500 litres of water a day – which equates to 1.5 tonnes of greenhouse gases per year.

- Defra’s water strategy for England – Future Water – outlines a vision to reduce daily water consumption by 20 litres per person by 2030.

2. Government action:

- Ofwat annual leakage targets have resulted in leakage figures falling by 36% since 1994/5

- Amendments to the Building Regulations will set a calculated whole building performance standard of 125 litres per head per day for water use in new homes by 2010.

- The voluntary Code for Sustainable Homes has established performance standards for new homes including a minimum performance level for water use.

3. The Act on CO2 campaign includes national print and radio advertising. Details of the top tips and more information on why it is important to save water can be found at . Kate Humble has presented an information film on water saving tips. Copies of the film are available for broadcast from the Defra or EST press office.

4. Defra has also published research on the Public Understanding of Sustainable Water Use in the Home which can be found at The research found that:

There is little awareness of water as a serious environmental issue nor of the severity of water scarcity issues in the UK;
People have little concept of the impact of wasteful behaviours and therefore do not see water efficiency as a serious issue;
Water usage is based on ingrained habits, beliefs that water is plentiful and a right, as well as a lack of conscious awareness;
A number of misconceptions around water usage come into play, which are barriers to the adoption of water efficient behaviours. For example perceptions that there is no serious threat as the UK is an island surrounded by water; a belief that it continuously rains, and; supply issues are not as bad as other countries;

People are surprised by the amount of water used in everyday activities, the lack of effort needed to change their behaviour and do not feel that action is unreasonable.

5. The ONS 2009 tracker survey, commissioned by Defra and the EST, of Public Attitudes and Behaviours towards the Environment, which includes attitudes to water, was published on 23 September 2009 and is available at


Defra Press Office

Rachel Clark
Phone: 020 7238 5599

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