Thursday, 24 March 2011

Look after our sewers and beaches

The Met Office has predicted that climate change could lead to more extreme weather events. This could increase the likelihood of sewer flooding.

So what can the general public can do to help reduce sewer flooding?

Avoid flushing items that might block sewers.

Three quarters of sewer blockages are caused by items that shouldn’t be disposed of down the loo or the sink, and half of all sewer flooding is caused by blockages.

Drains from your home are normally no wider than four inches (100mm) and are only built to carry water, toilet paper and human waste. Other items don’t break down and can get caught in pipes, forming a blockage over time.

What not to flush:

Toilet cleansing cloths, face wipes, baby wipes, cotton wool, tampons, sanitary towels, condoms, nappies, razor blades and plasters. Cooking fats, oils and grease that often get washed down the kitchen sink also build up in the drains and sewers.

But why should you bother?

Well, people who put things they shouldn’t down the loo could be flushing money down the pan because the cost of having your own private drains unblocked can be expensive.

And if the public sewers are blocked, the sewerage companies’ costs in removing blockages get passed on to customers via sewerage bills.

Let’s not forget our beautiful beaches and bathing waters. During extreme weather events any items flushed down the sewers may also end up as unsightly pollution on our coastline.

We know from our research that most people want to do the right thing, but often they are unaware that flushing items will cause real problems.

So take a moment to think and remember:

If you throw stuff into the loo, it could come back to trouble you.

See our leaflet on how to responsibly dispose of household waste for more information.

Useful links
Water UK – Bag it and Bin it
The Sewerman’s log

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Using Water Wisely at Home

Why are we asked to save water when it’s always raining? The UK is rain soaked so shouldn’t there be enough water to go around?

The reality is parts of England are suffering from serious water stress and a rising demand for water means taking more and more water from underground sources and rivers, this is affecting the natural environment. We can all help reduce this water stress by using our water supplies more responsibly.

Water is heavy, and it takes a lot of energy to collect, treat and pump water to our homes. According to Waterwise, the UK’s leading authority on water efficiency, the energy used to pump, treat and heat the water in the average family's home each year produces the carbon equivalent of a return flight from London to New York.

So if we all use less water and less energy we will also reduce our carbon footprints. So that’s a win-win, or even a win-win-win!

CCWater’s Top Water Saving Tips

  • Replace worn washers on leaky taps. A dripping tap could add over £18 to your annual water bill if your water use is metered
  • Take showers rather than baths. If you usually shower, try shortening it. A short shower can use a third of the water used in a typical bath. 
  • When putting the kettle on to boil, only fill it with as much water as necessary. Two-thirds of us waste energy by boiling more water than we need. 
  • Make sure that the dishwasher or washing machine is completely full before turning it on, and avoid using the half load setting. Half-load cycles use much more than half the energy and water of a full load.
  • Around a third of the water we use goes straight down the loo, so using a water displacement device in older, less water efficient toilets, can help save water with every flush.
These few simple measures can reduce your water use around the home and when you reduce hot water use it also saves energy and can help keep your energy bills down.

Useful links

Energy Saving Trust – The link between water and carbon
Waterwise – Reducing Water Wastage in the UK

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Using Water Wisely in the Garden

If a glimpse of some long awaited sunshine and the prospect of the Easter break has bought out your green fingers, now could be the time to think about some easy steps to help to reduce the water industry’s carbon footprint by using water wisely in the garden. 

Cut your glut with a water butt
You can still have a colourful and productive garden without using vast amounts of tap water.  If you use a water butt to collect rainwater from a downpipe running from the roof, shed or greenhouse, you can use this to water your garden on dry days instead of paying to use tap water through a hosepipe. 

A hosepipe can spout up to 18 litres of water per minute, and watering the lawn with a sprinkler can use up to 1000 litres of water every hour. This is the same amount of water that an average family of four uses in a day. 

Water your garden wiselyWatering your plants early in the morning or late in the evening means you’ll lose less water through evaporation and target the roots of the plant where the water does most good.

A mulch of wood chips, bark or gravel can also help prevent water evaporation and keep weeds at bay which saves you time and effort later on.

Established lawns are very hardy when it comes to bouts of hot dry weather and will soon recover their greenness when it does eventually rain. Newly laid lawns may need more attention there’s a simple guide to looking after your new lawn on our website.

As well as reducing your carbon footprint, using tap water wisely in the garden will also help reduce your water bill if you have a water meter.

Your local water company will also have advice and may have free water saving products to help you to reduce your water use.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Our Water Environment – the Big Picture

There’s a lot of discussion about climate change: how it’s linked to carbon emissions and how it will affect growing populations. But nobody has ever looked at how dieting and climate change could be linked. 

“Wait a minute. What’s all this about?” I hear you cry. Well, think about it. It has been shown that faddy yo-yo diets don’t work. What does work is making small changes that improve your lifestyle. Eat a bit less. Exercise a little bit more. The extra steps seem small but they can all add up to pounds off.

It’s the same with looking after the climate. The ways in which water and sewerage moves through our environment can all be affected by climate change. And the way that we interact with this environment can be changed by some very small, simple steps. 

Today, we’re sharing pages which explain more about the water environment, how water and sewerage moves through that environment and more about the small steps we can all take to make a difference.

Three Ways to Protect our Water Environment

It’s not many but it’s a start. After all, no one person is responsible for changing the environment overnight but we can all pull together on the small things. 

So here they are. Three tips on little things you can do that will help to reduce our impact on the climate and the water environment. Oh, and it might help to keep your future water bills down too:

  1. Dispose of paint thinners, motor oil and other hazardous materials responsibly.These should not be tipped down the drain or they can end up polluting rivers and streams, which then have to be cleaned up by water companies. This uses energy, which creates carbon emissions, it is also expensive - and water customers have to pay the bill.
  2. Check if your home plumbing is properly connected to the waste water sewerage system. If your pipes aren’t connected properly dirty water from your sink, washing machine and even your toilet could be going straight into local rivers and streams. The Connect Right website can help you to identify a misconnection and gives tips on how to correct it.
  3. Use slug pellets and other pesticides sparingly.The chemicals used in these products can enter the water cycle. This can also cause pollution in local water streams and rivers.
Make Climate Week the occasion to take small steps to contribute to the Big Picture.

Monday, 14 March 2011

What can we do for you?

The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) represents water and sewerage consumers in England and Wales. We provide a strong national voice for consumers.

We have offices throughout England and Wales so that we can keep in close contact with companies that provide water and sewerage services, and with consumers themselves.

We can give you advice on dealing with your water and sewerage company online using our customer support site or you can contact one of our offices across England and Wales. CCWater costs each water customer 23p per year.

Since October 2005 CCWater has:

S  Gained £135 million from water companies in reduced prices and extra investments  
S  Dealt with over 80,000 consumer complaints about water and sewerage companies
S  Secured £11 million in compensation and rebates for customers