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Water: Conservation

Volume 460: debated on Thursday 24 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what measures the Government are (a) taking and (b) considering to promote efficiency in the use of water; (137615)

(2) what steps he is taking to encourage water efficiency in the (a) domestic and (b) commercial sector.

The Government support a number of initiatives to promote water efficiency in the domestic and commercial sectors. The Water Industry Act 1991 mandates water companies in England and Wales to promote the efficient use of water to their customers. This can include the distribution of free water saving devices, free or subsidised supply pipe leak detection and repair, and free home or business water saving audits. The Water Services Regulation Authority (publicly known as Ofwat) monitors each company's actions annually and expects water companies to take a more active approach when supplies are under pressure.

Other measures include the establishment of the Water Saving Group, which I chair, including representatives from a range of stakeholder groups. The group aims to encourage the efficient use of water in households and to contribute to demand management in the long term.

To address water efficiency in new housing, Communities and Local Government (CLG) have introduced a code for sustainable homes (CSH). This sets out performance levels and standards, including minimum performance levels for water use.

In addition, DEFRA and CLG have recently consulted on regulatory options for minimum standards of water efficiency in new homes and commercial buildings. Responses to the consultation will be published in due course. CLG are also reviewing the sustainability of the existing building stock, including water use.

The Government also support a number of programmes to further sustainable water use by businesses. These include Envirowise and the enhanced capital allowance scheme for water efficient technologies.