‘By 2050 the UK water deficit is anticipated to be 4017 mega litres per day’, was the stark announcement at the National Water Framework Consultation launch in January 2022.

Since then, all water companies have been developing plans to upgrade the UKs water supply to meet this demand and reduce current usage levels, Per Capital Consumption (PCC) to 110 litres per day from its current average of 150.

Smart meters are seen as a significant part of the solution to reducing domestic water usage.  Thames Water have recorded post installation savings of 12-17%. All water companies are now working on plans for Advanced metering infrastructure, where all new connections or meters use the latest generation of smart meters.

New meter locations, underground no longer works

The industry has recognised that the most effective methods of installing the advanced metering infrastructure is to locate the meter above ground.

The use of the Groundbreaker water management system co-locates the water meter on the exterior wall of the dwelling, alongside gas and electric meters.  It has the advantage of providing a better environment for smart technology over traditional underground boundary boxes and the additional benefits of readability for the consumer as well as extended signal transmission and easy meter exchange.

Design out leak paths: comply with Water & Construction Industry Guidelines comply with “Water Safe” initiatives

The unique location of the Groundbreaker water management system future proofs the network and minimises the risk of developing leaks.  The position of the meter allows for a joint free water supply, eliminating joints in the water supply pipe maintains the integrity of the supply pipe.  The use of an uninterrupted supply has been recognised as best practice by Water UK and the Home Builders Federation.

Steve Leigh, Managing Director of Groundbreaker commented, ‘Portsmouth Water have demanded surface mounted meter housings as the standard required for all new properties for over 15 years. Working with them we have established the effectiveness and reliability of Groundbreaker.’  He continued, ‘With the need to maximise the effectiveness of smart metering programmes, I can’t see that there is a viable alternative – putting smart technology in a hole in the ground just does not work.’

Water efficient homes

Whilst smart meters can go some way towards achieving PCC reductions, alone they will not achieve the target level of 110 l/m.

Recently announced policies by United Utilities have recognised that water efficient homes are the key, as part of their new Environmental Incentives Scheme, all new properties developers will be encouraged to install water conservation measures requiring an output of 14 litres a minute or less.

One of the elements of this is the installation of a flow regulator within the water supply system.

Flow regulators modulate the rate at which water enters customer premises – regardless of network pressure, meaning a reduction in the volume of water used by customers even when ‘variable use’ appliances (i.e., showers, taps, hosepipes) are used.

As the flow of water into the premises is limited, then the volume of water used by the customer is also limited – without a degradation of service.

More importantly, flow regulators do not require any intervention or behavioural change on the part of the customer, thus leading to ‘natural’ reduction in per capita consumption.

As these products are fitted to the main water supply, and not each individual outlet, they remove any risk of consumer interference and ensure that minimum standards of water supply are maintained as specified within the Water Industry Act and Water Fittings Regulations.

Groundbreaker supply two products that fulfil this role.  In properties with a meter Groundbreaker’s NRv2 LoFlo can be installed between the water meter and manifold in any underground or surface mounted water meter enclosure.  This means fitting does not interfere with occupier.  Entry to the premises is not required. It is an easy, low-cost intervention that can be introduced without expensive excavation or retrospective work.

For properties are not metered, the new addition to the range is the LoFlo Inline.  This is fitted on the main water supply pipe, normally just after the main stop tap.

Both products have the added advantage of offering whole site protection against backflow or contamination of water services from private water pipes – the only products available that can offer this facility.

Achieving targets

Although it is recognised that improvements to the vast UK water network cannot be achieved overnight.  The new policies being introduced by our major water companies will take UK water usage towards the targets required to maintain a secure supply and work towards UK Net Zero targets.

For further details please contact Groundbreaker Systems at www.groundbreaker.co.uk

  • Steve Leigh is a Fellow of the Institute of Water and Managing Director of Groundbreaker Systems and was winner of the Home Builder Federation’s “Utility Individual of the Year for 2016”.
  • Groundbreaker Systems won the HBF’s ‘Utility of the Year’ in 2018.
  • Groundbreaker Systems are 2023 winners of the Building & Facilities News as Company of the Year for Innovation in Sustainable Water Management
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