Water System Resilience (ARCC-Water)

Lead Research Organisation: Loughborough University
Department Name: Geography


Reliable water supply is fundamental to human health and wellbeing, and in the UK is underpinned by inter-linked infrastructure for abstraction, storage, treatment and conveyance of potable and wastewater. Climate change has the potential to affect the UK water system in a number of ways: through changes in the water available for abstraction and storage, especially through altered drought frequency and intensity, changes in demand and changing risk of infrastructure failure.This project aims to develop a set of analysis tools and data on climate change and future demand that will enable users to identify packages of options that results in heightened reslience of the UK water system to these uncertain future drivers. The multi-criteria approach to be developed will also allow alternative adaptation options to be assessed against other criteria, such as environmental sustatinability, energy costs and public acceptability.The focus of the study is South and East England, an area that is already experiencing water system stress, and likely to be subject to additional stresses in the future due to climate change and demographic changes.The methods and results of this research will enable the UK to better plan for adaptation of the water system to climate change, and will help identify the polciy and regulatory changes that would be needed for adaptation to take place.The project has been designed in collaboration with stakeholders from government (DEFRA, EA, OFWAT, GLA), the water industry (UKWIR, Water UK and a number of water companies) and NGOs with an interest in water. These same stakeholders will be involved throughout the project as project partners.


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Description The main non-academic beneficiary of this research has been Anglian Water Services (AWS). During the course of the studentship, their Survey of Domestic Consumption (SODCON) 'Golden 100' data set was subject to intense scrutiny, quality assurance and error-trapping. This has led to the creation of a 'clean' data base of customer micro-component water use, and more robust estimates of per capita consumption (PCC) across the sampled household types. Eight micro-components of household water use were analysed: shower; bath; toilet; wash basin; kitchen sink; washing machine; dishwasher; and external tap. These data provide insights into customer behaviours and help AWS to achieve sustainability objectives.

Statistical analysis of the 'Golden 100' water demand data revealed distinct weekly and seasonal patterns of water use that cannot be explained by changing weather patterns alone. Long-term changes in gross water use at inter-annual scales were also detected. These analyses provided insight to the key factors influencing the likelihood of micro-component water use, as well as the water volume consumed. For example, the statistical models were used to estimate the effect of the 2012 hose-pipe ban on regional water use. The analysis showed that the observed reduction in demand following the introduction of the ban could be largely explained by the subsequent cool, wet weather in summer 2012.

The research also contributed to an industry-wide initiative led by UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR) Limited to understand links between water demand and weather. The AWS data showed, for example, a significant correlation between air temperatures, sunshine hours and preceding 7 days rainfall with external water use. Other temperature dependent relationships were found for shower water use volumes in unmetered households.
Exploitation Route Please see the attached impact statement from Dr Steve Moncaster, Supply Demand Strategy Manager, Anglian Water Services.
Sectors Environment,Other

Description The partner organisation (Anglian Water Services) has benefitted from the research in several ways: (1) Their household micro-component water use data set has been quality assured and cleansed; (2) The strengths and limitations of their survey data are now better understood (from point of collection to synthesis into summary statistics on per capita water demand); (3) The relative significance of weather, socio-economic and behavioural drivers of household water use in Eastern England are now better understood by AWS; (4) Specific insights have been gained into the impact of a hosepipe ban on customer behaviour during the 2012 drought (and subsequent switch to very wet summer conditions).
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Environment,Other
Impact Types Economic