London has fewer water resources per head of population than any capital city in the world – and less than the state of Israel. London also has the highest per person usage of water of any city in the UK. Average water use in the Thames Water area (excluding supply pipe leakage) which includes London and the Thames Valley was 154.5 litres per person per day in 2007-08.
Given a growing population and predicted higher temperatures due to climate change water shortages could become an increasing problem in future years, with negative impacts for consumers, the economy and the environment. Therefore we need to plan now to increase water efficiency in both new and existing buildings. Saving water can also save energy and CO2 emissions.
The London Plan, which provides strategic direction for development across London as a whole, sets a water use target for residential development at 105 litres per person per day.
Water consumption in buildings can be reduced through a range of measures, including by:
- using water efficient fixtures, fittings and appliances to maximise water efficiency (e.g. dual flush toilets, spray taps, water efficient washing machines)
- collecting water from roofs for reuse - the simplest approach to collecting rainwater is to use a water butt which can store water for use for irrigating plants/gardens. More sophisticated systems are also available for making use of rainwater internally (e.g. to flush toilets)
- using grey water (all household wastewater other than wastewater from the toilet) recycling systems to reuse waste water (e.g. from baths, showers, washbasins) for uses such as flushing toilets
For further information on water saving at home including on grey water recycling, water wise gardening and buying a water butt see ‘Water at Home’.