The British public are being asked to help the country protect water resources for future generations.

The British public are being asked to help the country protect water resources for future generations as part of a major campaign launched today by more than 40 environmental groups, charities, water companies and regulators.

Clean, healthy and readily available water is essential for health and wellbeing, as well as economic growth, but as the climate emergency and population growth put increasing pressure on the water environment, the UK is facing hotter and drier summers and an increased risk of water shortages.

The UK already has less available water than most other European countries and the average person uses a staggering 150 litres per day. Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, gave a stark warning earlier this year that the country is approaching the ‘jaws of death’ as parts of England are at risk of running out of water within 25 years.

The ‘Love Water’ campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of water and the role everyone plays in protecting it. It is the first time such a large group of partners have joined together to work with businesses and consumers to tackle issues such as pollution and wastage.

The long-term campaign is led by bodies including the Environment Agency, Water UK, Ofwat, NFU and Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) among others. It will feature events and initiatives, such as beach and river cleans-ups and water saving projects, designed to engage the public and encourage them to enjoy water and the environment.

‘Love Water’ is also inviting businesses and other companies to get involved by supporting the campaign through promotional activity while pledging to do their bit to save water and protect the environment by reducing pollution and waste.

The campaign’s long-term ambition is to call on businesses to make water-saving and pollution reduction part of their operational and corporate responsibility targets.

It is being launched as part of the government’s Year of Green Action which aims to help people to connect with, protect and enhance nature.

Many people are not aware that actions like tipping waste liquids down roadside drains, flushing wet wipes or washing up greasy pans in the sink harm wildlife and affect water quality by causing pollution in local rivers, lakes and the sea. The campaign will raise awareness of the small changes people can make to achieve a big difference:

  • The UK water industry spends £100 million each year on clearing blockages caused by the wrong things going down sinks and loos. In February, United Utilities spent 8 weeks clearing a 90 tonne fat berg beneath the streets of Liverpool – more than 84 metres long.
  • Research by Keep Britain Tidy shows that 1 in 4 people admit to littering. Last year, a spring beach clean organised by Surfers Against Sewage removed almost 66 tonnes of litter from beaches across the country.
  • 72% of people surveyed said they used wet wipes, although most brands are not flushable and can cause blockages and pollution when they get into sewers.
  • One litre of oil poured down the sink can pollute one million litres of water.
  • If everyone in the UK turned off the tap when brushing their teeth we would save 1,584,000,000 litres (1584 megalitres) a day.

Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency said:

“Most people agree that water is a precious resource but too often we take it for granted and don’t see how our actions have a direct effect on the local rivers, lakes and beaches we all care about. Our campaign intends to change that by urging people to use water wisely and to think before pouring cooking oil down the drain or flushing a wet wipe away.

We know that everyone has a duty to preserve and protect water and the campaign will also work with industry, water companies and other regulators in the longer-term to cut down on wastage.”

Michael Roberts, Chief Executive of Water UK said:

“The Love Water campaign is a great way to get the public to think about the link between the water we all use and the rivers and lakes that provide it and sustain our environment.

But we also know the water industry must play its role which is why we have set out ambitious plans to reduce leakage alongside a new programme for helping the environment, which will see 8000 km of rivers cleaned and improved.

We all need to take action so that this country does not run out of water in the middle part of this century. Only by working together can we bring about the changes needed to ensure we have a resilient water environment now and in the future.”

Rachel Fletcher, Chief Executive at Ofwat said:

“We all have a part to play to protect and preserve this most vital resource. We look forward to working with partners within and outside the water sector to encourage everyone to do their bit and think about the value of water.”

Martin Spray CBE, Chief Executive of the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) said:

“Every day in our wetlands we see the impact that poor water quality and quantity can have on wildlife. More than half of species in British freshwaters are in decline, with 13% threatened with extinction including wading birds like curlew and plants like triangular club rush.

We all need to make the mental connection that our water comes from and returns to the natural world – via our taps and drains – so it’s up to us to care for that water for the sake of all life, including ourselves.”

NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts said:

“Water is fundamental to food production and is absolutely essential to nearly every food item British farmers produce. Water availability is often only talked about during times of flood or drought but we need to raise the awareness of its essential role 365 days a year. It plays an absolutely critical part in delivering safe, traceable and affordable food to the nation.”

Tim Wainwright, Chief Executive at WaterAid, said:

“Around the world, one in ten people live without safe water close to home. Water is a precious resource that we cannot take for granted, and we are delighted that the Love Water campaign is raising awareness of this important issue. It is vital that we work together to manage this precious resource in the UK and globally so we can achieve a world where clean water is normal for everyone, everywhere.”

An action-packed programme of environmental events open to staff and members of the public is planned by South West Water this year.


In its 25 Year Environment Plan, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs named 2019 as a Year of Green Action, aimed highlighting the role that people and businesses can play in improving the environment. 

The Year of Green Action is designed to build on positive environmental action already taking place, while reaching new audiences and demonstrating the power of collective action across all sections of society.

 Monthly activities have been planned by South West Water, together with the rest of the Pennon Group. So far these include conservation management at operational sites, a restoration project in partnership with Dartmoor National Park, volunteer beach cleans across the region and participation in wider initiatives including National Invasives Week and the Big Devon March.


Also during the Year of Green Action, South West Water will be continuing its support for ReFill, by supplying 3,000 stainless steel refillable bottles, free of charge, to Keep Britain Tidy to distribute to community groups in Devon and Cornwall.  The ReFill bottles will be sold by communities to plough the proceeds back into good causes in their areas.


As a co-founder of the ReFill revolution, South West Water is also talking to councils in the region to explore how the campaign can be expanded further across the South West, following its UK launch in Bude, Cornwall in 2014.


The company will continue to roll out its award-winning Upstream Thinking programme to restore wetlands and control future water treatment costs, as well as its Downstream Thinking scheme to cut the risk of sewer flooding and overflows. Since 2010, South West Water has worked to improve the water quality at 1,290 farms upstream of drinking water reservoirs and river abstractions. It has also restored 7,997 acres (3,236 hectares) of moorland, culm grass and other semi-nature habitats.


Reducing carbon emissions and generating renewable energy using hydropower, solar panels, biogas and wind power are also a key area of focus for 2019. As part of its ambitious business plan for 2020-25, South West Water is gearing up to spend more than £1billion to improve services, enhance operational resilience and deliver the largest programme of environmental improvements for 15 years.


Environmental Permitting Manager Jenny Lundh is coordinating the company’s programme of Year of Green Action events. She said: “South West Water’s day-to-day activities depend on a healthy natural environment and we want to continue to play our part in protecting it as well as encouraging our customers to do so.


“We’ll be inviting our staff – and customers where we can – to join in, volunteer and learn more about our beautiful environment and what we can all do to improve it.”


Director of Environment Ed Mitchell said: “The health of the natural environment is essential to our business. In every aspect of our operational activity we seek to leave the environment in an improved condition, for example by promoting biodiversity on our sites.


“We already have an active volunteering programme which enables staff to take part in projects such as beach cleans and habitat restorations. During 2019 we’ll be supporting the Year of Green Action and inviting our customers to join us in some of the activities we have planned.”


Events will be publicised on South West Water’s website and social media channels.