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News - 1 August 2008

Businesses need to act now to avoid water crisis

The fuel crisis will pale in comparison to the impact that limited water supplies and resulting price hikes could have if businesses continue current consumption levels, says sustainable business experts Envirowise who are calling on UK companies to take action now to reduce the millions of litres they waste daily.

Envirowise is encouraging businesses to reduce their water consumption in order to help them futureproof against the operational and bottom line effect of rising costs.

Identified as one of the ‘Top Five Risks’ to mankind this century alongside soaring food prices and dwindling energy reserves, water supplies are already being stretched with businesses in England and Wales using 9.8 billion cubic metres every year - enough to fill over 2.6 million Olympic-sized swimming pools.

New research from Envirowise shows that the biggest business water users are in the South East, followed by the North West and Wales, with manufacturers, retailers, hotels and restaurants all having a key part to play in reducing consumption.

Envirowise estimates businesses in England and Wales could make annual savings of up to 3.2 billion cubic metres, worth around £9.4 million per day, and have launched a new free resource efficiency initiative to help them do just that.

The Rippleffect is focused on supporting businesses to improve water efficiency, and those taking part can expect to make cost savings as well as improve their environmental credentials.

Mary Leonard, a director at Envirowise, a government funded programme that offers practical environmental advice for businesses, says: “Water is still considered by many as a cheap and limitless resource. The reality is that we are using far too much of it and this is putting pressure on existing supplies.

“While cost-savings may be a key driver for water conservation, companies that do so demonstrate to customers that they are adopting best environmental practice. This in itself offers a competitive advantage.”

Envirowise says it is possible for a business that has not considered its water use before to make savings of up to 30 per cent of its water and effluent bills, and these savings can increase to 50 per cent by investing in long-term water saving projects and water-efficient technology.

Mary adds: “There are many simple low and no-cost ways of improving water efficiency including fixing dripping taps and installing water-saving devices. A tap dripping two drops a second across a year, for example, could waste nearly 10,000 litres of water.”

Businesses taking part in the Rippleffect will gain an understanding of how much water they use, learn about simple steps they can take to start saving water and money and be given help to measure the water and cost savings they have made.

The Rippleffect is open to businesses of any size in England. The final deadline for joining the six-month initiative is 10 September 2008. Those interested in signing up for the free initiative can call the Envirowise Advice Line on 0800 585794 or visit the website.

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