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Water at Home

Water demands across Essex are met by taking water (abstraction) from rivers (surface water) and ground water (aquifers). Across Essex we currently have four public water supply companies, Essex and Suffolk Water, Affinity Water, Anglian Water and Thames Water. After water companies abstract water, it is processed at water treatment works to provide our freshwater supplies.

In Essex, average household water consumption in 2021-2022 was 155-160 litres per person per day (l/p/d) (Plan for Water 2023). This was higher than the average in England of 144 l/p/d. The government has set a national water saving target that requires domestic consumption to reduce by 20% by 2038.

As you would expect, the latest water company data shows that people in Essex use most water on personal washing, but it varies a lot. Households that pay a flat rate for their water (unmetered households) tend to use more water – up to 40% more on various household activities. Customers can use as much as 118 l/p/d on bathing, showering and hand washing, followed by 35 l/p/d on toilet flushing. Non-essential outdoor activity also can account for up to 13.5 l/p/d.

watering tomatoes
Tap washing lettuce

Smart meters have been proven to reduce household water usage, which is why there is a drive from water supply companies to get them rolled out as soon as possible. Smart water meters (like smart gas and electricity meters) are self reading meters that help you keep track of how much water you’re using and how much it costs. This makes it much easier to change behaviour and spot if you have a leak within or around your own property.

Each water company covering Essex have committed to smart meter rollout for their customers. Anglian Water intend to install 1.1M smart meters across their supply area by 2025, with Colchester and surrounding areas being one of their prioritised upgrade locations. Essex and Suffolk Water promise to replace all their existing water meters in Essex with a smart meters by 2035.

Top tips to reduce you water usage:

  • Use a bowl in the sink when washing fruit, vegetables of dishes. You can then use the wastewater to water your plants.
  • Fill a jug of water and put in the fridge for when you want a cool drink rather than running the tap.
  • Turn off the tap when you clean your teeth. A running tap uses up to nine litres of water a minute.
  • Wait until you have a full load before using your washing machine or your dishwasher. Some new washing machines use less than seven litres of water for each kilogram of clothes, while modern dishwashers can use as little as 10 to 15 litres of water a cycle.
  • If possible, take a shower instead of a bath. A five-minute shower uses about 40 litres of water. This is about half the volume of a standard bath.
  • Use a water-saving device in your toilet cistern. Depending on the size of your cistern, you can save between one and three litres each time you flush the toilet.
  • Using a watering can in the garden instead of a sprinkler or a hosepipe. Garden sprinklers and hosepipes left running can use between 500 and 1000 litres of water an hour.
  • Think about fitting a water butt to collect rainwater off your roof. Water butts usually store about 200 litres of water. As well as being better for watering your plants, using rainwater in the garden reduces the amount of treated water you use.

Take advantage of the Essex County Council water butt discount scheme, enter your postcode when purchasing on our suppliers website.