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Blog – TEC’s Water Framework: Helping members to reduce water consumption and costs

Water scarcity has once again been in the spotlight for WorId Water Day, which highlights the global importance of conserving freshwater. In the UK we will be in a supply demand deficit of more than three billion litres a day by 2050. That’s the equivalent of 1271 Olympic swimming pools worth of water between 2025 and 2050.

TEC’s Water Framework, which was set up in 2020 in partnership with Wave Utilities, helps members to reduce water consumption as well as utility costs. We caught up with Ollie Arthurs, our water specialist and Oli Shelley, Head of Operations at Wave Utilities, to find out more about how the Framework helps members to cut costs and increase water efficiency.

How big an issue is water scarcity in the UK and is this a regional or a national-based issue?

Oli: By 2050 we will be in supply demand deficit of more than three billion litres a day with 66% of that deficit sitting in the Southeast. However, there isn’t one region that is not forecasted to be in deficit by 2050. We are already seeing the effects of water scarcity in some parts of the country. For example, in Cambridge thousands of  homes are being held up in the planning system due to water scarcity concerns.

We must also remember that we share our water with the natural world. We tend to look at water through the lens of people but wildlife and habitats rely on water too.

How big an issue is water consumption and management in the higher education sector?

Oli: Education is the second highest consumer of water by sector which is mainly due to the large estates institutions have. In addition, higher education research is getting more technically demanding requiring more water resources to manage it. The good news is that institutions have largely domestic consumption so there is a lot we can do to reduce water use.

Ollie: The Water Framework currently has 78 members, reflecting how important an issue water management is for the sector.

What services do members receive from Wave if they sign up to the Water Framework?

Ollie: The Framework covers water and wastewater services, flexible billing and tools and reporting. If members want additional water efficiency and ancillary services then these can be accessed under the framework. This can range from installing automatic meter readers (AMRs) to monitor consumption to developing a water contingency plan. All members also have a dedicated account manager under the framework.

Oli: We also provide advice, expertise and insight to members around water management as well as updates around legislation and policy.

How does Wave help members detect and resolve water leakage issues?

Oli: The first thing we would do is a leak and flow test so that we can ascertain if the leak is on the inside or the outside of a building. Once this is established, we will get a leakage detection survey done. If the leak is inside then we will deploy support from the institution as they often have Facilities Management personnel who can help with issues such as leaky loos, urinals flushing constantly or leaking taps.

Ollie: Wave has helped many of our members to uncover and resolve water leakage issues, resulting in significant cost savings. Wave helped Godalming College fix a large leak that was going on for sometime. Fixing this issue led to savings of more than £8000 a year for the college.

What are the best ways of increasing water efficiency in a higher education setting?

Oli: Automatic Meter Readers (AMRs) tend to be the first point of call to measure and monitor water consumption. This enables institutions to see any trends as well any issues they may have with continuous flow in their buildings. Wave can also set up alerts which trigger when a spike in consumption is detected, notifying the energy manager to a potential problem. This can lead to significant cost savings – one TEC member is now saving more than £50K per year after an AMR they installed detected an issue.

Ollie: Within the Framework, 22 members have now installed AMRs which amounts to 270 individual devices across those members’ estates.

What are the major benefits to members of signing up to the water framework?

Ollie: The Framework will ensure that members are getting the basics right and provide further support with cost and consumption reduction. Members can also benefit from flexible billing and online account management tools.

Each member is saving on average 5% on their annual water and wastewater bill. To put that into context, our 78 framework members are saving £1.1 million annually between them.

Oli: The purpose of the framework is to get the basics correct and support members to drive down consumption and spend.

What are the major innovations coming to the market in water management and how might TEC members benefit from these?

Oli: Legionella risk management is a little understood but potentially very significant issue. Legionella grows in water supply in stagnant water and water that sits in certain temperatures and is the cause of legionnaires disease. To prevent legionella from developing you must ensure that water moves around constantly – through flushing – which in turn increases water consumption.

Remote flow and temperature sensors are being developed which enable better water temperature control so that you don’t need to continually use extra water to flush through systems.

Wave has recently received funding to do a trial project using this exciting technology and we will be recruiting some universities to take part.

Ollie: The roll out of smart meters in non-household sector will help support members with managing their consumption better, there is still some way to go until this is fully rolled out by water wholesalers but it should, in particular, help those that currently don’t have an AMR logger installed. We will be keeping members informed about this as well as any other industry developments which will help them managing their consumption better.





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