Why do we need to save water?
Many of our customers have asked why we need to save water, especially as we had so much rain at the start of the year. We’ve put together a list of our most frequently asked questions that will help shed more light on this.
When Storm Ciara hit, our reservoirs filled up across the region. However, once they are full, we’re unable to store extra water during subsequent storms. It’s really important to remember that reservoirs only provide 45% of Yorkshire’s water. We take water from rivers and use underground boreholes to help supply the region and we can then move this water around using our underground grid system.
This spring has been one of the driest on record, so our reservoirs haven’t been getting regular top ups so they’re a little lower than we’d like. We’ve also all been spending more time at home than usual, so we’ve been using more water. Some days, we’ve been supplying Yorkshire with an extra 140 million litres of water!
Did you know that May was the driest month on record? Our friends at the Met Office said we had a whopping 266 hours of sunshine! Even though we’ve had some much-needed rainfall recently, we need a lot more to fill our reservoirs back up.
We’re also using water differently at the moment. In fact, our water demand in May was the highest it’s been this year, and on some days, we’ve been pumping an extra 140 million litres of water across our network! That’s why we’re asking everyone to be a bit more careful with what they’re using.
We keep a close eye on the levels in our reservoirs and you can too by taking a look at our Watsit Report. Here we update our reservoir levels, rainfall data and river levels every month so you can see what’s going on.
Not all our reservoirs are used to supply drinking water. Often, when we have a couple of reservoirs together, there is one lower down that is a compensation reservoir. This means its job is to release flows into the downstream watercourse to keep it flowing, and help protect the environment in the river, as the other reservoirs catch a lot of the water from the catchment.
Our regional reservoir capacity is based on our long-term planning need, historical data, forward estimates of the potential impact of climate change and what we need in order to provide our customers with the level of service they’ve told us they want us to provide. Our current modelling doesn’t demonstrate the need for more reservoirs to be built.
Building new reservoirs is really expensive and can be quite complicated, so it’s not a quick fix. Instead, we’re looking at other options, like moving water around the county to where it is needed most.
Good question! Dredging is not as simple as you think. It would mean completely draining a reservoir for a prolonged period, while still supplying our water treatment works. It’s very difficult and costly to safely desilt a reservoir and get rid of the silt. There are also limited benefits to desilting. Our reservoirs are regularly checked by engineers to ensure they are safe and the levels are monitored.
We check reservoir volumes as often as we can, but with over 100 of them, it's a big (and expensive) job!
As part of our water resources management planning process, we regularly review the size of our reservoirs and whether we need to build new ones. We also need to consider the challenges of building a reservoir, not just in terms of cost, but also planning and environmental impact.
We have a comprehensive and well-established long-term planning process for water resources, which considers our future risks (such as population growth, new development and climate change) and looks at a wide range of options for dealing with those risks. These include both supply options (new abstractions, transfers from other areas or new reservoirs) and demand options (increasing the number of customers on metered supplies, helping customers to reduce the water that they use and reducing our own use including leakage).
Rather than spending lots of money on building new reservoirs, we’re employing new technologies that will help us find leaks quicker and encouraging our customers to use water carefully.
We know it’s really important we do our bit to help save water. Our colleagues are out across the region finding and fixing any leaks as quickly as they can - following social distancing rules of course. New technologies, such as acoustic ears that listen out for leaks, help us find them faster and with a team of over 250 leakage inspectors, we work hard to find the ones no one can see before they become a problem.
We do our best to fix leaks as quickly as we can, but It’s not always straightforward. Depending on where the leak is, we may have to get permission from the local highways authority or shut off the water supply to local residents while we fix the leak, so we need to plan these jobs in carefully to make sure everyone has enough warning. We also get leaks reported to us when they’re not from our pipework, such as groundwater, and we need to pass these reports on to other authorities or landowners.
If you do spot any leaks, it's important that you report them to us as soon as possible, so we can get them fixed.
You can report a leak by calling us on 0345 1 24 24 24.
No, not at all. Washing your hands more only uses a very small amount of water and this won’t have a significant impact on your water usage. If you're worried about your usage, you can always turn your tap off while you’re lathering up the soap to save some water. Maintaining good hygiene is essential and we’re not asking people to wash their hands less.
There are no restrictions in place, but we always ask customers to use water carefully.
Small changes make a big difference. Things like turning off the tap when you brush your teeth, using a watering can instead of a hosepipe and opting for a quick 4-minute shower help save water. You can also order your free water saving pack from us, which has some helpful devices you can use round your home to help save water.
We have lots of handy tips and advice on our water saving page.
Unfortunately we don’t sell water butts at the moment, but we are looking into options to help people. Please stay tuned and we'll keep you updated.
We’re so happy to hear that you’re helping our community by saving water where you can.
You can find information about your bill in our charges section.
We understand this is a very challenging time and we are more than happy to help our customers if their circumstances have changed or if they’re struggling with their bills. Please visit our help to pay section for more information on how we can help.