ARCHIVE: What is government doing for water conservation?
- Progress report to Parliament on the action taken by Government to encourage the conservation of water
- Water Saving Group
- Water strategy: Future water
- Government’s Housing Green Paper
- Code for Sustainable Homes
- Water efficiency in new buildings
- Market Transformation Programme
- National Water Conservation Group
Progress report to Parliament on the action taken by Government to encourage the conservation of water
Section 81 of the Water Act 2003 requires the Secretary of State to prepare and lay before Parliament a progress report setting out the action taken by Government to encourage the conservation of water. This first report was due to cover the action taken during the period 1 April 2004 – 31 March 2007 and outlines the steps Government proposes to take in the future. However, the drought of 2004-06 together with the subsequent development, with stakeholders, of a new water strategy for England has enabled Government to present a comprehensive report to Parliament, particularly in respect of its future proposals. Therefore this first report covers the period 1 April 2004 – 31 March 2008.
- Progress report (PDF 460 KB)
Water Saving Group
The Water Saving Group is a ministerially-led group which brings together key water industry stakeholders to promote the efficient use of water in households. The Group work will contribute to the long term sustainability of the water supply. The first meeting of this group took place in October 2005 at which members agreed its action plan.
The Government has launched its new water strategy for England, Future Water. The strategy sets out a framework for water management in England. This includes: sustainable delivery of secure water supplies , an improved and protected water environment, fair, affordable and cost-reflective water charges, reduced water sector greenhouse gas emissions and more sustainable and effective management of surface water
Following the Water Summit in 1997, the Water Services Regulation Authority (publicly known as Ofwat) has set water companies targets to reduce leakage to its economic level. This is the level at which it costs more to reduce leakage further than to produce that water from an alternative source.
Since its peak in 1994-95, leakage rates have fallen by about 36 per cent, which is enough water saved to supply the daily needs of over 12 million domestic customers.
Annual reports on progress with leakage reduction, security of supply and activities to promote the efficient use of water by the water industry are available on the Ofwat website.
The Tripartite Leakage Study was published in March 2003. It was commissioned by Ofwat, the Environment Agency and Defra to establish good practice in leakage management and develop suitable approaches to determine the economic level of leakage.
The Housing Green Paper - Homes for the future: more affordable, more sustainable, sets out plans for three million new homes by 2020. These include plans for greener homes, with high environmental standards and flagship developments leading the way.
Communities and Local Government (CLG) launched the Code for Sustainable Homes on 13 December 2006, which includes standards for water efficiency. The code sets a range of standards above the current statutory baseline. From April 2007 all new homes receiving Government funding will be required to meet Level 3 of the Code.
Defra and CLG jointly consulted on options for regulating for minimum standards of water efficiency in new homes and commercial buildings. The consultation was launched in December 2006 as part of the Government's wider 'green package' announcement including the Code for Sustainable Homes, a draft Planning Policy Statement (PPS) on climate change and a consultation document signalling Government's intention to require zero carbon homes by 2020.
A report has now been published that gives a statistical summary of who responded to the consultation, responses to the questions asked and summaries of detailed comments made, identifying key themes and issues.
Water Efficiency in New Buildings, a joint Defra and CLG policy statement, responds to the key issues raised in response to the consultation and sets how Government proposes to bring forward regulations to implement minimum standards of water efficiency for new buildings and key fittings.
An amendment to the Building Regulations will set a calculated whole building performance standard of 125 litres/head/day for water use in new homes. This will allow flexibility about the choice of individual water fittings whilst still enabling the achievement of an overall performance level for the home. CLG will also conduct research and analysis to assess whether it is possible to establish whole building performance benchmarks for a range of non domestic buildings.
Government intends to examine the scope for measures to encourage the uptake of water efficient appliances or adjustments in existing buildings.
The Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations currently set minimum levels of water efficiency performance for key water using appliances such as WCs, urinals, dishwashers and washing machines. The Regulations will be reviewed with a view to setting new performance standards for key water using fittings.
Through the Regulations it would also be possible to regulate high water using fittings such as wet rooms, spa baths, etc., to make such appliances notifiable to the local water company. This would enable them to exercise discretionary powers to install a water meter and hence reflect the true cost of the water being used.
These measures will apply to individual appliances installed in both new and existing houses and non-domestic buildings and are intended to complement the overall performance standard set within building regulations. Further information is available on the National Archives website:
- Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations (National Archives website)
This programme encourages products which do less harm to the environment, using less energy, water and other resources. It supports a structured, public domain sector review process, conducted in partnership with business, consumers, experts and other bodies. The Internet is used to encourage public awareness and scrutiny of current policy thinking. The water section includes a range of policy briefs and scenarios on future water use by key domestic products.
This is a voluntary group, made up of individual organisations committed to promoting the efficient use of water. Its membership includes water suppliers, regulators, manufacturers, academics, technical experts and non-Governmental organisations.
Page last modified:
10 November 2008
Page published: 4 September 2003