Whilst many of this edition’s case studies have focused on the power of PPPs to create valuable water infrastructure, as this case study from Nottingham City Council demonstrates, there is much that individual councils can do within their own operations.
Nottingham, in the middle of England, is home to more than a quarter of a million people. The city council is an all-purpose authority providing local government services within the city and works with other organisations to make Nottingham a better place to work, live, visit and invest.
The Council’s water programme included the implementation of water reduction initiatives at key sites, employee engagement and finally community involvement.
An action plan was developed in 2003 identifying the ten council buildings with the largest water accounts across the council as well as any buildings with unusually high rates of water consumption.
Over the next two years the council’s energy and sustainability team worked with specialist organisations to install leak detection and reduction systems.
Highlights included urinal controls, a school rainwater harvesting system and a borehole facility at an outdoor environment centre.
This was supported with an internal communication plan designed to raise awareness of water issues amongst employees and other users of the building. Humorous messages were used to attract attention. This included everything from a ‘Declare your leaks’ campaign on St David’s Day to the creation of a ‘Waterwoman’ superhero. In addition was ‘The Drips’ cartoon strip using the tagline ‘Banishing drips from the city council’.
These slogans were attached to reports, memos and posters to keep the water savings message top of mind.
A centralised billing system was introduced to make it easier to identify consumption irregularities and have them inspected and acted upon quickly.
In the last two years, Nottingham City Council has reduced its water consumption by 25%, making a saving of over £290,000. Many buildings have reduced their water consumption by up to two-thirds.
With installation costs totalling £160,000 for over 60 sites, and ongoing maintenance costs of £1,000 a year, a return on investment has already been achieved.
Water use is now monitored on a monthly basis and the readings used to continually improve standards and performance.
The programme has also been recognised by The Environment Agency Water Efficiency Awards for its demonstration of both water and financial savings and a commitment to continuing water efficiency measures into the future.
Nottingham City Council website
Celebrating your success: The Environment Agency Water Efficiency Awards 2007, Environment Agency website
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