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Top 10 tips to save water for Water Saving Week 2022

Sustainable drainage scheme providing biodiversity benefits at Nine Wells.

As part of Water Saving Week 2022, Greater Cambridge Shared Planning has collated some helpful tips which could help you to reduce your water consumption and bills. 

Water is a precious resource, and the East of England has the lowest rainfall in the country. Everyone can play their part in saving water, by using water carefully and re-using water where possible. For Water Saving Week 2022 planning colleagues have shared 10 top tips to save water. 

10 top water saving tips 

  • Keep a jug by the kitchen sink to save any water you run waiting for it to heat up. Or when you’re washing fruit and vegetables, or cooking with a pan of water, why not save it? You can use it to water plants. 
  • Only fill the kettle with the water you need (this also saves energy). 
  • Can you wait until you have a full load before using your washing machine or dishwasher? And when buying new appliances, try to look out for water efficient models with eco settings. 
  • A 5-minute shower uses about 40 litres of water, which is about half the volume of a standard bath – could you switch to showering?  
  • If you already prefer a shower – could you shorten the time you shower for, or turn the shower off when washing or conditioning your hair? An aerated showerhead or a low flow shower head also helps. 
  • Turn off the tap when you clean your teeth. A running tap wastes about 6 litres of water a minute. 
  • A leaking toilet can waste a huge amount of water per year – up to 400 litres per day or 5 full bath tubs, which could add up to 146,000 litres per year. This could go unnoticed as it may be a constant but small trickle. To detect a slow leak add a few drops of food colouring into your toilet cistern and don’t flush for at least an hour.  If there is food colouring in the bowl after that time you have a leak and should get it repaired. 
  • Use a watering can instead of a hose to water plants.  A hosepipe can use up to 1,000 litres of water an hour which is the equivalent of about 12 baths! 
  • Fit a water butt to collect rainwater off your roof for watering plants in the garden. 
  • Plant drought resistant plants in your garden, so there is less need to water. 
  • A dripping tap could waste up to 5,500 litres of water per year and may be easily fixed by a new washer. Can you check your property for leaks on your internal plumbing. 

Cambridge Water has lots more tips on saving water and an interactive online tool to help save water, energy and money, along with free water-saving devices. 

Spotlight on: saving water in new developments 

Rainwater harvesting at Eddington, North West Cambridge 

Eddington is a sustainable and high quality urban extension to Cambridge developed by the University of Cambridge. The development is only partly complete, but will ultimately include 3,000 homes that are supplied with non-potable water by the largest water recycling system in the UK, which captures up to 45% rainwater on site. The new homes are being constructed to Level 5/6 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, requiring water consumption to be no more than 80 litres per person per day in comparison with the average of 143 litres per person per day. At full capacity this will represent a daily saving of about 0.6 megalitres (a megalitre is one million litres) in potable water demand (an Olympic sized swimming pool holds approximately 2.5 megalitres). 

A site-wide integrated water management system controls the flow of rainwater through the development from brown and blue roofs, into swales and green corridors and then into purpose-built lagoons. A pump station filter treats and returns the rainwater into the development for non-potable uses such as washing clothes, flushing the toilet and watering gardens. The system also has benefits for reducing the risk of flooding from surface water, and the lagoons are designed for public recreation and ecological enhancement. 

The rainwater system is operated and maintained by Cambridge Water and residents receive a discount on their water bills as they are charged different amounts for their potable and non-potable usage. 

Available data for 2018 to 2020 provided by Cambridge Water indicate that total domestic consumption of all water (potable and non-potable) is currently in the order of 91 l/p/d, of which 27% is supplied from the rainwater harvesting system. If rainwater is not available (e.g. due to drought or infrastructure failure), the non-potable uses are supplied by the potable mains water system. The rainwater harvesting system proved robust to the 2019 drought period, although it is not yet fully built out. 

Other water efficient developments in Greater Cambridge 

The Virido site at Great Kneighton is a development of 208 homes built to Level 5 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, which means that water consumption is limited to 80 litres per person per day. The homes have water saving features such as dual flush toilets, reduced flow showers and reduced volume baths, which saves on both water and energy consumption without compromising on flow rates. To get to the 80 l/p/day level the scheme also includes several underground tanks to gather and store rainwater which is then filtered and used for flushing toilets. 

Cambridge Housing Society built Richard Newcombe Court extra care housing to Code Level 5. It includes individual greywater harvesting systems in each apartment.