The rain falls mostly on the plains ....and not where we need it
The news this week that many areas of the UK are in drought and at high risk of needing to apply water restrictions is likely to leave many customers asking the usual question "So where does all the rainwater go?". The rainfall charts do show there has been reduced rainfall for a number of years and this accumulative affect is really starting to store up issues. However, I am sure many customers would still ask what can be done to more effectively capture and utilise the rain that does fall.
Of course, supply in the form of extraction of water from the various types of resources such as rivers, reservoirs, or groundwater from boreholes is only one part of the equation. The increasing demand from customers is the other, and in times of water restrictions the demand side becomes the primary area of focus for the water company to maintain its water balance. We are the seeing creative ways to deal with drought such as the abstractions or water movements, such as using the River Medway which is itself very low to re-supply one of the reservoirs in Kent. However, this is not a sustainable activity and also often requires regulatory approval, e.g. the Environment Agency in the UK.
So, in addition to trying to predict rainfall which is notoriously difficult, the focus needs to turn to reducing demand through various water efficiency measures. It is well recognised that many of the water companies have been progressing initiatives in these areas for many years and that there are some notable examples where the overall demand has remained static even though customer numbers have increased by up to 20% in some regions.
With at least one of the UK national papers repeating water saving measures applied in 1976, such as sharing baths and other garden initiatives, the time for a more holistic Integrated Water Management approach ultimately resulting in a long term sustainable solution may be coming sooner than many expect.
What could this approach look like and what are the opportunities and challenges? Well this is likely to be a topic for discussion at the Water UK City Conference which Infosys will be attending on the 1st March 2012 (http://www.water.org.uk/home/events/events-list/12th-annual-city-conference-2012 ) and one that I will continue to comment on in my next blogs.