The balancing act of getting water to UK homes

Are you guilty of taking water for granted? You wouldn’t be alone, we’ve all been guilty at some point! After all, we turn on our taps, and it’s there. It’s only when the pipes become frozen, or there’s a shortage that we become more aware of this precious resource. While we have much better access to water than some countries, it doesn’t mean that we can afford to waste it. The process of getting water to your tap is a careful balancing act of managing water supply and demand. The fascinating process is delicate and requires constant attention and evaluation. We’re going to look at how UK water companies tackle this challenge, and how you can help the process by merely, saving water. 

Water supply and demand – a balancing act 

Cast your mind back to your days of education (for some of us this may be a little bit further than we care to imagine but bear with us!) and think of the water cycle. Rain falls, travels through rivers, then becomes evaporated, and clouds form ready to rain once more. Water companies step in after the rain falls. While it would be great to pop a big bucket out the window and the rain fall specifically in that area ready for collection – it’s not that simple. 

Water companies must collect rainwater from across the country, and tap into resources such as freshwater lakes and rivers. It’s a delicate process, taking too much water can harm the environment, but not taking enough leads to shortages for homes. Which is why it’s essential to use it wisely. 

From the environment, to your home 

Every drop of water in your home goes through a long process to make it suitable for use. Screening, filtering and even flocculation – who knew our water was so fancy! The point is that these processes take a lot of time and effort which would be fine if you could store the drinking water for months on end, but you can’t. For the same reason you don’t fancy drinking the water from your old water bottle that’s been in the car since your attempt to get fit in the first lockdown! It’s just a bit gross. 

Once the water goes through the process, it needs to be used. Remember that balancing act? It’s now turned into a ‘spinning-multiple-plates-whilst-balancing-on-your-tip-toes’ act. Taking the right amount of water from the environment, at the right time, then filtering the right amount of water at the right time to provide it to you… at the right time. We’re out of breath just thinking about it! 

Quick tips on using water wisely in your home 

Thankfully, most of us will not need to worry about such an exhausting feat. We’re happy turning on taps and enjoy a refreshing glass of H2O! But now we understand the struggle of water supply and demand; responsibility has shifted onto our shoulders to use it wisely. So, here are some simple tips to get you started: 

  • Whatever comes out your taps use it. Didn’t finish your water bottle from the day before? Water the plants. Leftover water from boiling pasta? Use it to nourish your hair
  • Never leave a tap running. Fill up a washing bowl to clean plates. Turn it off when brushing your teeth. Get in the shower as soon as you turn it on or collect the water to flush your loo! 
  • Equip your home. Whether this is by ordering water-savings gadgets like cistern displacement tools and showerheads or by fixing your leaks. 

Sure, we could try and sell the idea that you’ll save money on your water bill – but let’s be honest, water is relatively inexpensive! We could talk about countries in the world who struggle to get clean water, and how we should feel privileged to be in such a great situation. At the end of the day, by keeping these three things in mind, you can reduce your consumption and genuinely make a difference to your local environment – which is what it’s all about. 

Water supply and demand in other nations 

Speaking of water-use overseas, perhaps it’s time we get some inspiration. Globally, 1 in 3 people live in an area facing a water crisis. In this Ted Talk by Lana Mazahreh, she discusses how growing up in Jordan helped her value water from a young age, and still allows her to reduce her consumption dramatically all year round.  

Remember that ALS ice bucket challenge from years ago? In Jordan, she used sand. She would fill balloons with flour instead of water as a child. Conserving water was second nature to someone who lived in a water-scarce country. Thankfully, we do not have the same struggles here in the UK, but she tells of inspiring tales and will undoubtedly give you some food for thought on how you use water at home. Especially as water scarcity is predicted to impact the UK within the next 10 years. 

Have you learnt something new about the water that flows from your tap? Will you do more to reduce your consumption or have you been inspired by other nations and their methods? Let us know in the comment section below how you intend to save water in 2021. 

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