Water matters

Understanding the consumer view on the future of our water supplies

Raise awareness of the bigger picture to engage consumers in the reality of the issue of water scarcity

Demonstrate that individuals can have an impact by showing them practically how small, simple changes can make a difference and save the household money

Shout out about how water companies, the regulator, big business and government are working together now to seek long term resolutions for water resilience across the UK

There is low consumer understanding of the threat of water shortage in the UK

There is a general awareness of climate change and population growth but this is not linked to issues of water scarcity

  • Consumers tend to think about drought and hosepipe bans when the weather gets hot, but this is seen as temporary
  • The UK is perceived as a wet country with lots of rain and therefore water shortage doesn't seem likely
  • It's a challenge for individuals to take onboard the consequences of events in the future (even the relatively near future)
I am really shocked that in 2065 the outlook for water is so bad
Business Customer, Thames Water

Consumers react with shock and disbelief on receipt of information about water scarcity

  • They question why they are not being informed
  • They recognise the need to take action now for long term benefit
  • There is concern for the next generation - the ones who can instill water saving practices in their daily lives

The information provided is very frightening, perhaps not for my generation selfishly but for our children and grandchildren. This makes you realise how serious the situation is
Household customer, Severn Trent

Let's hear from water customers on the topic of water scarcity

Let’s hear from customers

Let’s hear from customers

What needs to be done to enable customers to play their part in reducing the threat of water scarcity?

Raise awareness of the bigger picture

  • Talk in consumer friendly language about the long term consequences, demonstrating in everyday terms what action water companies are already taking to conserve water and improve resilience of the UK supply
  • Demonstrate the impact that small changes in behaviour at work and at home can make if we all contribute
  • Provide practical guidance on how consumers can save water at home, with a clear money saving message attached so all stand to benefit
Consumers must realise that water is becoming increasingly scarce, but there are challenges in communicating this important message
Raconteur 'Futrue of Water', July 2019

Engage consumers in the action being taken

  • When informed on the facts, consumers agree that water companies, government, big business and regulators need to work in partnership to resolve the issue - partnership makes them feel more certain of the right outcome and fair decision making
  • Consumers need to understand that fixing leaks is just one small part of the issue, bigger action on the supply side is also required
  • Customers naturally assume they will cover the cost of solutions through their bills. Reassurance that costs will be applied fairly over the long-term is required.
We need governments, companies and individuals
to account for the water they use and listen to the voices of those often ignored, the poor, the vulnerable, local people and the environment
Ruth Mathews, senior manager at the Stockholm International Water Institute

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For full report or detail contact research consultant Graham Brown