Atkins looks down under to avoid future water restrictions - 04 April 2012
With the introduction of water usage restrictions in much of the UK from 5 April 2012, Atkins, the UK’s leading engineering design consultancy, believes experiences elsewhere in the world can be adopted in the UK to save billions of litres of water and potentially avoid water restrictions being imposed in the future.
Changing our behaviour to use water more efficiently, as well as better coordination of resources, improved storage and continued investment to maintain the infrastructure should all be included in a long-term strategy. However, significant capital investment programmes to move large volumes of water around the country are not the answer.
In the UK water is generally taken for granted. Parts of the country have plentiful supplies, whereas others have shortages, and these areas can change from year to year. Ultimately the reason restrictions are needed in the short-term is because of a lack of rainfall at the time and of the quantity expected. But with climate change having the potential to increase the frequency and severity of drought conditions in the UK in the future, a longer-term plan is needed, as recognised in the Water White Paper.
Mike Woolgar, Atkins’ director of water and environment in the UK, said:
“Building a new national network of pipes to move large quantities of water around the country would not be practical owing to the unpredictability of drought conditions and the significant cost which would need to be funded by either the taxpayer or by end users through water bills. Instead, it makes more sense to look at how water can be stored more effectively and used more efficiently, and at water companies working together more closely to coordinate resources at a regional level and continue their programmes of investment in the network.
“Water companies around the world have taken a more inclusive approach to changing behaviours by working with the end users to reduce usage rather than imposing measures. For example, Sydney Water ran a large-scale programme to fit equipment in people’s homes which helped reduce overall water usage. Hundreds of thousands of households took advantage of the voluntary scheme, each saving around 21,000 litres per year on average. With each household saving added together this is a saving of over 10bn litres a year in the Sydney catchment area – or enough to fill 4,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. This could work in the UK, but will need a change of attitude to water usage and everyone to work together.”
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Notes to editors:
Atkins (www.atkinsglobal.com) is one of the world's leading engineering and design consultancies*, employing some 17,700 people across the UK, North America, Middle East, Asia Pacific and Europe. It has the breadth and depth of expertise to plan, design and enable some of the world's most technically challenging and time critical infrastructure projects.
*It is the largest engineering consultancy in the UK (New Civil Engineer Consultants File 2011) and the 13th largest global design firm (Engineering News-Record 2011).
Recent projects include:
- Major infrastructure works, such as the design and programme management of the civil works for the Dubai Metro red and green lines in the UAE;
- Key rail projects – providing architectural and engineering design services on Crossrail, Europe’s biggest civil engineering project in London, UK, and designing stations, tunnelling and track systems for Gautrain, South Africa’s first high speed line;
- Renewable energy schemes – transformer platform design for the Thanet offshore wind park in the North Sea;
- Multi-year architecture-engineering construction management services for the US National Park Service, including projects such as rehabilitation of the Furnace Creek Visitor Center and Administrative Complex at California’s Death Valley to meet the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification standards;
- High profile transport planning and urban design – our innovative scheme to deliver a diagonal crossing at Oxford Circus in London, UK, has helped tackle the problem of pedestrian crowding;
- Water and environmental projects – critical programme management of storm protection works in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and Southern Louisiana in North America, providing expertise in coastal restoration, engineering, environmental and GIS support to rebuild defenses and protect habitats;
- Multidisciplinary building design – Northwood Primary School in Darlington, UK, is an exemplar project which raises standards for environmental design and community engagement.
Atkins was named among The Sunday Times 25 Best Big Companies to Work For 2011, won Consultancy of the Year in the CIBSE Low Carbon Performance Awards 2010, received the first ever certification of the Carbon Trust Standard awarded to an engineering consultancy in the construction sector, and was included in The Times Top 50 Employers for Women 2011 and The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers 2010. Atkins was also construction and civil engineering sector winner for the fifth consecutive year in the Target National Graduate Recruitment Awards 2010 and was awarded a RoSPA Gold Award 2011 for excellence in control of health and safety in the workplace.
Atkins is the official engineering design services provider for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.