Water companies in Wales and England must continue to pick up the pace in tackling the impact of climate change on water supplies, according to the Consumer Council for Water (CCW).
The consumer body’s annual Water, Water, Everywhere? report reveals that while the industry in Wales has made positive progress in fixing leaks, these efforts must be accelerated to meet the immediate and long-term pressures on our water networks.
Lia Moutselou, Senior Policy Manager at CCW, comments: “Recent extreme weather events – such as the flooding experienced in Dŵr Cymru’s area earlier this year – highlight some of the potential challenges that lie ahead as our climate continues to change. Although Dŵr Cymru responded positively to this incident, and the wider industry has coped well with the increased demand for water throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and warm summer, we at CCW have lent our support to calls for companies to act ‘further and faster’ to maintain positive progress as part of the nation’s green economic recovery.”
That will require water companies stepping up long-term investment and staff training as well as using innovation to identify the weak points within their networks and put in place appropriate measures to prepare for more extreme weather events. Speeding up these efforts could prevent consumers being cut off from their water supply, which affected consumers in Wales for longer periods of time than those in England last year.
That will require water companies stepping up long-term investment and staff training as well as using innovation to identify the weak points within their networks
While water suppliers in Wales made positive progress in fixing leaks during 2019-20, longer-term trends indicate that these improvements aren’t happening fast enough, particularly in Hafren Dyfrdwy’s area, where leakage is among the highest in the industry. Accelerating improvements is important, both in meeting immediate and long-term pressures on our water networks but also in motivating consumers to do their bit to save water at home. Consumption of water in Wales has actually increased over the last five years, with consumers continuing to use more water on average than in England. Dŵr Cymru saw the highest level of water use per person per day in 2019-20 than any other company.
For the past decade, a larger proportion of water consumers in Wales have contacted their water company to report issues with the colour of their tap water than those in England. Discolouration is often linked with water supply interruptions and leakage events, and companies should speed up their progress in tackling these issues for the benefit of consumers.
Sewer flooding – either inside or outside the home – is one of the most devastating service failures, whether caused by heavy rainfall, wider flooding or blocked sewers. Customers contacting CCW to seek help with sewer flooding complaints have reported that the experience left them unable to access basic facilities for several hours, with added time taken to disinfect and clean up the damage caused. Any growth in number of consumers facing this in the future would be unacceptable, according to CCW.