Water demand soars as temperatures rise

1 June 2020

  • Welsh Water sees record demand for water over last 72 hours
  • Unprecedented demand which already higher due to more people being at home due to Covid-19 regulations
  • Water demand higher than seen during peak of 2018 heatwave
  • Teams working around clock keeping the water flowing and fixing leaks
  • Customers can do their bit by following top tips on ways to save water in home and garden

With Wales basking in glorious sunshine at the moment, it looks as though it won’t just be the weather that will be breaking records.

While the sun shone over the weekend in what is set to be the driest May on record, not for profit utility company Welsh Water reported a record demand for water from its customers – which exceeded the levels seen at the peak of the 2018 heatwave.

With more people staying at home in Wales to comply with Covid-19 regulations, the company has already seen a sustained increase in demand for water. This demand then increases further when the sun shines as people look for ways to enjoy themselves outside more at home and stay hydrated. This comes as the country has seen lower than normal rainfall which was down 50% in April and 30% in May.

On a typical day, the company would normally treat and supply around 800 mega litres of fresh, clean water to its three million customers. This is roughly the same amount of water needed to fill around 320 Olympic sized swimming pools. Over the course of the weekend however, the company saw this level exceed 1,000 mega litres per day on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

To keep up with the demand, the company has had to ramp up its operations to ensure that it keeps the water flowing for customers. This included working around the clock to ensure the water treatment works kept up with demand and also in places using water tankers to top up local water systems.

The company has also increased it’s work on fixing and repairing leaks and in the last week alone has already completed 4,700 hours work on this. Since the mid-1990s, the company has reduced the amount of water lost through leaks on its network by 50% which means that it doesn’t need to take out as much water from the rivers and reservoirs in Wales.

Customers can also play their part by following some of the simple hints and tips the company has around ways to avoid wasting water in the home and garden. 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

Ian Christie, Managing Director of Water Services said: “I’m sure we’ve all been enjoying this warm weather and as a company we always see an increase in demand for water when the sun shines. Peaks in demand normally only last a short period but with more people at home due to the COVID-19 precautions we’re seeing a sustained period of increase in demand. The demand then over the weekend reached unprecedented levels which even exceeded what we saw at the peak of the 2018 heatwave.

“Meeting spikes in demand naturally brings with is some additional challenges for the company and people will have seen our teams out and about over the weekend working to make sure that we kept the water flowing. While we will do all that we can, it would help us as well if customers play their part as well by avoiding wasting water. We know that water is playing a crucial role at the moment in maintaining personal hygiene to tackle Covid-19, but there are so many simple things we can all do to save water at home.

“Garden sprinklers for example are one of the biggest consumers of water in the garden as they use on average 1,000 litres of water every hour. This is the equivalent of what a typical family would use inside the house in two days. By avoiding using sprinklers, or investing in a water butt to collect rain water, people could use significantly less water.

“Another way customers can help is by reporting any leaks to us which they may notice so that we can get a team out straight away to look at it. By working together in this way was can help ensure that we keep the water flowing through the summer”.

More information on water saving tips and details of how to get hold of water saving devices, visit our water efficiency pages.