The message no longer in a bottle

Posted: Monday 28th September 2009

Sales of bottled water in Britain fell by 9 per cent last year, despite the brief outbreak of summer. “For every degree the temperature rises above 14oc, sales of water increase by 5.2%,” said Richard Lamming of the British Soft Drinks Association. On 1st July 2009 the temperature reached 30.9oc, and yet bottled water sales are still declining.

This is partly to do with the price - tap water typically costs £0.01 per litre compared to Perrier at around £1.05 per litre – but for many it is a growing awareness of the scarcity of reliable water supplies, with current patterns of use in the UK being simply unsustainable.

The UKRHA continues to urge the government to make harvesting rainwater an urgent priority as a way of reducing the drain on a declining resource. Although only 38% of the UK’s total water use comes from our own direct use (everyone in the UK uses some 3,000 litres of ‘foreign’ water a day to irrigate and to process food and fibre crops that Britons consume), Environment Agency reports indicate that the average per capita consumption of mains water is still a massive 150-litres per day..

Substituting harvested rainwater for uses where wholesome water is not required, such as toilet flushing, clothes washing and garden irrigation, can reduce household mains water consumption and associated metered costs by up to 50%. In commercial applications, such as offices, industrial buildings and leisure facilities, this can easily rise to more than 80% in any building that combines a large roof with a high demand for non-wholesome water.

Harvesting rainwater also reduces the environmental impact of the mains water purification and transportation processes, and ameliorates flooding by reducing runoff, something the Pitt Review urged after the flooding of 2007.

Rainwater harvesting has no downside; acting now could give this country the most secure water supplies in Europe within a decade.

For more information, visit the UK Rainwater Harvesting Association website at

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