Accent MR Accent

What would encourage large businesses to reduce their water consumption?

The largest 200,000 water customers across Britain use one third of all water. In March 2020 OFWAT and the Environment Agency requested that wholesalers and retailers produce a joint plan of action setting out how they intend to work together to deliver “significantly improved levels of water efficiency in the business sector”. So what could encourage large businesses to reduce their water consumption?

We were commissioned by South East Water to conduct research to understand what steps might be taken to encourage greater water efficiency in the business sector and what appetite there is among business customers for a range of different options. In order to provide a robust, but detailed, understanding of large users’ perspectives on this issue and a strategy for taking this forward within the industry, we are conducting an integrated project combining qualitative depth interviews and a telephone survey of large users. Key sector stakeholders have now joined a Steering Group to help drive this forward.

To support this, we recently ran a focus group with business users for the Major Energy Users’ Council (MEUC). We discovered that, despite an overall appetite for using water more efficiently, it was clear that if major users are to reduce their water consumption, there will need to be policy and regulatory motivators and better baseline metering data. In contrast, incentive-based tariffs and alternatives to mains supplies are simply not currently attractive to large customers. And with the cost of water significantly lower than other utilities, there’s no compelling cost consideration to make reducing water consumption a key area of concern.

There is clearly a great deal more discussion and research that is required to engage business users and to encourage them to bring reducing their water consumption higher up their agenda. To read a full review of the research in The Water Report click here