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  • by Karma Loveday

Waterwise and MOSL respond to Defra’s water demand reduction target

Water efficiency campaigner, Waterwise, has called for greater ambition from Defra in setting statutory water demand targets under the Environment Act.


In its draft response to the targets, the water efficiency specialist advocated:

• amending the leakage element sub-target to 36% to reflect the higher level of ambition already embedded in water sector plans and in the Water UK leakage roadmap;

• pegging the household consumption sub-target to achieve a per capita consumption (PCC) of 100 litres a person a day by 2050; and

• rounding the non-household sub-target up to 10% and commit to improve the evidence base so this sub-target can potentially be increased when the target is reviewed.


Waterwise welcomed the overall Distribution Input (DI) metric "on the proviso that the government and regulators bring forward wider policy action to encourage a similar level of demand reduction ambition from other non-Public Water Supply (PWS) abstractors as we are asking of PWS water users”. It also called for the PCC element of the DI metric to be removed to “avoid the environment bearing the risk of population growth, given the primary purpose of the target is to help protect and enhance the environment”.

MOSL has called for clarity from Defra on how the government’s Environment Act water demand reduction target was reached and is intended to be realised. In its response to the Defra consultation on the target, the market operator welcomed the statutory nature of the target but highlighted among the following points:

• “Defra need to provide clear details on the mechanisms to be used and/or commit to making changes to the non-household market’s structural barriers preventing water efficiency from being realised”;

• ”The proposed non-household target is less ambitious than the equivalent household target and therefore creates a risk that there is not an equal focus for water companies to reduce demand across the system”; and

• “managing demand for NHH is not as simple as putting in place set targets across all non-household customers, as these customers are incredibly diverse - with 1% of business customers using around 50% of this water (about 1.5 billion litres per day). Asking or expecting industrial users to reduce overall water usage would mean asking them to reduce production, resulting in reduced revenue - a prospect that is not aligned to business or government wider economic growth agendas.”

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