Wonderful on Tap

How a changing climate is affecting water use

Climate change is affecting UK weather patterns, and a growing population needs more water.

With higher demand, and less predictable rainfall, we all need to be more water efficient. 

Demand for water is increasing, but rainfall is changing

In June 2020, a report called the Great British Rain Paradox was released.

The Great British Rain Paradox shows how, due to a combination of factors, climate change and population growth will lead to water shortages in England by 2040.

But if we all act now to use water more wisely, this can be avoided.


High demand in 2020

In the Spring and Summer of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic meant more people were at home than normal and we experienced the hottest May on record, demand for water was at an all-time high across the country.

In some places, water use was up to 40% more than we’d usually see at that time of year.

Water was being used quicker than it could be produced, and that meant some of you experienced water pressure and supply issues. 

In some areas, there just wasn’t enough water in the pipes by the time it got to those homes. Water was being used further up the network before it could get to its final destination.

While that level of use was impossible to forecast, it shows how demand is changing, can change and how much we all need to do to make sure there’s enough water for everyone.

How we get water to your tap.


*Average daily water usage per person, based on Severn Trent data

How we’re saving water

We take our responsibility to look after one of life’s essentials very seriously.

We’re passionate about protecting water and making sure each of us can access this vital natural resource, sustainably, when we need it.


We’re finding and fixing leaks faster than ever

Leaks on our network are one of the water conservation biggest problems we face. 

Our teams use cutting-edge technology to find and fix leaks faster than ever before, and we’re going to keep investing in detection technology to make sure we keep improving.

We detect 60% of leaks before they become direct issues for the public, but we need you help to find and fix leaks too.


You can help save water and save money

We’re doing all we can to save water, but there are some simple steps you can take to help too.

Together, we can make sure there’s enough water for everyone.


Tell us if you spot a leak

When you’re out and about, you might notice leaks in roads and public places from time-to-time. If you do, please report a leak to us and we’ll send out a team to repair it as quickly as possible.


Check for leaks at home

You can do some simple tests to check for leaks on your private pipework at home. Some possible signs of a leak include:

  • a wet patch in your grass or paving
  • an area of grass growing much quicker than that around it
  • sunken patches or slabs of paving
  • a change in water pressure


Order free water-saving devices

You can also order water-saving devices, from water butts for the garden, to shower timers for the bathroom.

These free and subsidised water-saving products can help you save water and, by reducing your use, they can help you save money on your water bill.

Saving water at home can help to make sure there’s enough water for all your friends, family and neighbours to use too.


Simple changes you can make to save water

There are also some simple changes you can make to help save water at home, in the garden and at work.


Processing water from rain to your tap

There’s a lot of work that goes into treating and cleaning water so it’s safe to use. It takes 12 hours for us to get water from our reservoirs to your tap.

Rainfall fills rivers and reservoirs

In the United Kingdom we have some of the safest, cleanest drinking water in the world, but it all starts as rain, hail or snow.

Over time, the water that lands on the ground makes its way into rivers. Some of these rivers eventually lead to reservoirs where water companies, like us, store water before it’s treated and sent to your homes.


Cleaning and treating water from reservoirs

We take water from rivers and reservoirs and pump it to our water treatment sites. 

We have many of these all over our region, each constantly working to produce clean water and send it out into the networks of pies that supply homes and businesses. 

Water goes through several stages of treatment before it’s ready to be consumed.


Cleaning the water

At first, the water goes through tanks where we add a chemical and inject air into it. This helps to force solid items, sediment and particles in the water together. They then rise to the surface, where they are separated from the water and removed.

Filtering the water

Then the water is filtered several times through sand, which catches any remaining particles and allows cleaner water to get through. 

Polishing the water

After removing all the particles, the water then passes over beds of carbon. The carbon beds make the water crystal clear and act like a sponge, soaking up any chemicals in the water.

Chlorinating the water

After it has been cleaned, filtered and polished chlorine is added to the water. The water is stored in large tanks to allow the chlorine to kill bacteria and bugs that might be in it. During this stage, the chlorine slowly dissipates and leaves the water.

The concentration of chlorine in the water is constantly monitored through the treatment process. Once the amount of chlorine in the water drops to a safe level, it leaves the treatment centre and is pumped out into the network.

Treated water enters the network and goes to your home

Once in the network, water makes its way through the pipes to your homes where we all use it for daily essentials like drinking, washing, brushing our teeth, flushing the toilet and preparing food.

Demand for water varies through the year, depending on what the weather is like. Of course, when it’s warmer, more people use more water. 

In the summer, more water is drunk, but it’s also used to keep gardens green, fill paddling pools and wash cars.


Used water comes back to us for treatment

Once water has been used, it ends up leaving your home through the plugholes and pipes that direct it to the sewer system.

Here it makes its way to our sewage treatment sites, where used water is cleaned thoroughly, before it is returned to the rivers and begins the cycle again.


Cleaned water pumped back into rivers

Once treated, used water is pumped back into the rivers. From here it returns to the natural environment where it will likely nourish plants and animals, possibly go out to sea, and ultimately evaporate and fall to earth again as rain, hail or snow.


How you can save water

Useful water-saving advice for however you use water.