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Welsh Water issues water use warning as demand soars to near record levels during heatwave

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With an extended amber weather warning for extreme heat in place for most of Wales, Welsh Water is asking its customers to help them keep the water flowing by being mindful of how much they use.

During the recent spell of warm weather, the company has already seen demand for water soar to near record levels. 

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Welsh Water say that this extra demand makes it a challenge to get water through the pipes fast enough and also drains the water quicker from the reservoirs and rivers that supply the water. 

This is especially important as between March and April, rainfall across Wales was only 50% of the long term average while between March and May it was just 60%. 

Welsh Water say they usually treat and supply about 800 million litres of clean water a day to its three million customers – roughly the same amount needed to fill 320 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Over the past days, Welsh Water has seen demand increase by 25% which meant it has had to supply an additional 198 million litres of water per day.

In popular tourist areas such as Pembrokeshire, the demand for water is also exacerbated by the volume of people visiting the area.  Wales is already a popular destination, but with a lot of people still choosing to holiday in the UK this year, the number of people visiting is again set to be high.

Reservoirs, like this one at Llandegfedd are running low according to Welsh Water (Image: Welsh Water)

In response to the warm weather, the company has ramped up production at its water treatment works.  It has also deployed its full fleet of water tankers to move water around the system to try and keep the levels topped up where demand is highest.

The company say it is also doing everything it can to cut losses from the system and has teams working across the country finding and fixing leaks as quick as they can.  It adds that its teams are currently fixing between 500 and 600 leaks per week.  Customers can also help by reporting a leak to the company as soon as they spot one. 

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To help customers play their part and identify simple ways they can save water around the home and in the garden, the company is offering handy hints and tips. 

These include:

  • Don’t leave the tap running while washing hands or brushing teeth
  • Take a shower instead of a bath.
  • Wait until the washing machine and dishwasher are full before putting them on.
  • Don’t fill the paddling pool to the top – and when you’ve finished, use the water on the plants in the garden.
  • Don’t use a sprinkler on the lawn to keep it green – the colour will soon come back once it rains.
  • Use our ‘Get Water Fit’ calculator to help with hints and tips on how to save both water and money – there are even free products available if you sign up.

Businesses are also being asked to make an extra effort not to waste water, particularly caravan parks, golf courses and farms. Even making small reductions in the amount of water a business uses has the potential to make a big difference in helping Welsh Water to keep water flowing this summer, with the added benefit of reducing a business’ water bills and helping it protect the environment.

Ian Christie, Welsh Water’s Managing Director of Water, Asset Planning and Capital Delivery Services said: “With temperatures across our area set to reach record temperatures over the coming days we are working around the clock to make sure we do everything we can to get as much treated water into the system. 

“Sometimes though the demand can cause problems on the network which is why we need to ask customers for their help so that we can make sure the water reaches everyone.  It’s also essential so that we can help preserve the supplies in our reservoirs and rivers after what has been a dry Spring and early Summer.

“Our advice is simple for customers, use the water you need but avoid wasting it.”

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Welsh Government Minister for Climate Change Julie James said: “Please can everyone remember to be especially considerate of the water you use during the current heatwave. Remember to switch the tap off when brushing your teeth, take showers instead of baths and reconsider your use of garden sprinklers and paddling pools.

“Our drinking water in Wales is world class, so whilst you are being asked to save water, please make sure you’re keeping hydrated as we stay cool in this sweltering heat.”

“These measures may seem small but all actions we take will help keep our water flowing and minimise our impact on the environment”.

Rhodri Williams, Wales Chair of the Consumer Council for Water (CCW), said: “As temperatures soar so does our demand for water and that can put an extra strain on the network, which is why it’s important we all use water as wisely as we can.”

“Our research shows that in the last six months two-thirds of us have not made an effort to use less water but there are lots of simple ways to save – whether that’s shaving a couple of minutes off our time in the shower or opting to use a watering can rather than a hosepipe. These simple changes can ease the pressure on the environment and save us money too.”

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(Lead image: Welsh Water)

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