We want to ensure that there is enough water available in the future to satisfy everyone’s needs while driving down costs for our customers. As we do that we want to make sure our water supplies are truly sustainable whilst also delivering wider benefits for the environment, for the economy, and for people’s well-being through the work we do.
We recognise that we can't do this on our own. We want to realise these opportunities by working together with you in a collaborative way - which is why we need your input, feedback and your ideas.
We have developed our Water Trading Portal as the focal point for all opportunities in relation to water resources and demand management.
For Demand Management we have set up Demand Innovation Forum where you can share your ideas, tell us about best practice or even suggest areas you think as a water industry we should be exploring. This is an open forum so please get involved and comment on other ideas and posts - collaboration and innovation are pivotal to us succeeding.
A key part of our Water Resources Management Plan (WRMP) development is understanding our ambitions for Demand Management . Whether it is designing a metering programme, setting out plans to tackle leakage or looking at innovative ways to encourage our customers to use less water we need to bring all the elements together (along with supply options) to address the water deficit in our area.
The plan below gives you an outline of the activities we have set out to get us to submission of the WRMP and our plans to continue to engage with our stakeholders and customers along the way.
Ed Barns our Head of Demand Management gives us an update on how the team have responded to the challenges of delivering a tough Demand Management Programme during a lockdown:
Home Water Efficiency Checks (HWECs)
The Government lockdown guidance meant we paused our programme of HWECs between March and August 2020 but we needed to recognise the increase in demand associated with our customers being at home. So we switched our efficiency checks to the phone . As the longer term impact of COVID-19 became apparent we implemented a programme of virtual HWECs using video calls to help the experience for our customers.
As restrictions eased in September 2020 we brought back our home visits programme to complement our virtual visits. Really critically we retrained our HWEC technicians to ensure they understood the importance of Per Captia Consumption (PCC) increases due to COVID-19 and changing customer needs.
Since remobilisation in September 2020 we have completed 3,578 home visits in our areas of highest PCC - part of our plan to visit over 9,000 customer properties between September 2020 and March 2021.
Smarter targeted metering
By April 2020 we had conducted a review of our approach to metering, understanding the issues within our existing programme. In response we have a transformation plan to deliver a desired ‘future state’ based on industry leading design principles. We have a new delivery partnership with Network Plus along with new processes, data, systems and capabilities.
Our metering programme was was also impacted by Government COVID-19 lockdown guidance. We have put in place a recovery plan with our partners - Network Plus. New meter installs are now consistently meeting targets with installs above 1,000 per week at the end of November 2020.
Alongside our universal metering and replacement programmes we are also delivering a year long data-driven trial in partnership with The Behavioural Insights Team. The trial will allow us to assess the impact of varying levels of meter reads and communications on customers behaviour in relation to Per Capita Consumption.
Communities, campaigns, and partnerships
We have launched a number of targeted campaigns to engage customers during peak demand. We focused on activities and behaviours which were more prevalent during COVID-19. These included a PR and social media campaign - ‘Think at the sink’ which included over 1 million organic views from influencer 'Tired n Tested' and our garden campaign with partner organisations including Hubbub and Kew Gardens. These behavioural change campaigns have focused on at-home high demand activities. We have also developed new partnerships to deliver water saving programmes under ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.
In October 2020 we launched our f marketing campaign called Save 10 a Day. The campaign was designed specifically to continue during possible COVID-19 restrictions and partners with local influences and charities within the St Albans district. The campaign provided customers with an online platform to firstly understand their water use and then order water saving products based on their personalised consumption information. Customers took part in challenges and water saving activities. This gamification approach rewards customers for completing challenges with ‘coins’ that can be donated to local charity partners. To date we have had 1.3 million social media reach, over 10,000 customer registrations, and provided 6,500 water saving devices to our customers in the first 8 weeks of campaign activity.
To reduce overall demand we are considering accelerating alternative measures such as the potential to increase water efficiency in the non-household sector (working with or via the retailers). We are actively involved in the Retail Wholesale working group in shaping the national joint action plan for water efficiency and continue to engage with retailers for potential collaborative opportunities and promotion of water efficiency. This includes the potential of delivering joint water efficiency communications in an innovative way by combining wholesaler and retailer knowledge, as well as supporting water efficiency visits and checks to non-household properties in a targeted and bespoke way.
As part of the development of both the Regional Plan in the South-East and our plans for WRMP24 we have been talking to customers right across the region to understand what they think about water, demand management, supply options and understanding their priorities.
This first stage of a four phased planned regional engagement has revealed some strong views on demand management, in summary:
- Demand management options are favoured overall but there needs to be a pragmatic mix including both supply and demand options
- Demand side options are seen as vital in the short term, both to protect the environment and to maintain supplies while longer term supply options are brought into place
- Demand options are not considered to be enough on their own as customers are concerned about their reliability, given the dependence on others to change their lifestyles - it is not felt that they will deliver enough reliable resources over the longer term in the face of forecast population growth
- Customers are largely positive about supply side options, provided they are not too costly and that they build on demand options such as metering and leakage, rather than replace them.
This is helping us in informing the options we are exploring and as we continue our 'conversation' with customer we will explore more about the balance of options.