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  • by Trevor Loveday

Yorkshire seeks to switch on consumers in bid to turn off hosepipe bans

Yorkshire Water has proposed greater emphasis changing the behaviour and improving the understanding among customers through better communications as a means to avert the threat of hosepipe bans.

The proposals arose from finding from research commissioned by the water firm into the effectiveness of hosepipe bans and alternative approaches to changing behaviour. The research white paper, Future options for managing customer demand for water – by consultant, London Economics, reported that:

  • evidence on the effectiveness of temporary use bans is scarce and the quality and robustness of some assessments were questionable, or “highly circumstantial”:

  • the most reliable analyses of the impacts of hosepipe bans, by the Environment Agency and UKWIR, found overall reductions ranging from 1-9% for bans implemented in 2006 and 2012, with the actual impact dependent on a wide range of factors; and

  • many alternative interventions have been found to be similarly, if not more effective than water restrictions while being quick and cost effective to implement and not triggering negative consumer reactions.

Yorkshire said its own research had revealed that customers had a clear preference for being provided with information on how to reduce their water use voluntarily inside and outside the home all year round, rather than simply being banned from using a hosepipe.

Yorkshire Water plans to publish the London Economics research and its customer research to “start a conversation with the public, other water companies and regulators on what is the best way to approach managing demand in the 21st century.”

Yorkshire Water Chief Executive Richard Flint said: “Social media means it’s now much easier to get messages to people and we have much more sophisticated ways of targeting information to make it easy for people to take action. We now need to ensure our drought plans reflect this, which might mean hosepipe bans are a tool that are no longer relevant.”

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