Water Neutrality: How can we meet the challenge?

Whilst Nutrient Neutrality made headlines recently as an environmental and logistical hurdle for developers, a new term, ‘Water Neutrality,’ has now come to the fore as an even more pressing topic. Water neutrality means further pressure on developers and homeowners to minimise leakages, reduce usage, lower flow and install new hardware wherever possible to save water.

Construction UK Magazine reported that, “If our water usage patterns don’t change, the UK will have an ongoing deficit of 4000 Megalitres per day by 2050.” The article goes on to say that reductions in leakages and domestic consumption are the two primary aims of DEFRA and Local Authorities throughout the UK.

What is Water Neutrality?

Water neutrality means that, much like the better-known carbon footprint, the ‘water footprint’ of a place or process is reduced as much as possible, with any remaining negative effects offset.

Energy Manager Magazine describes the probability of achieving water neutrality as, “In some instances, it will be possible to go completely water neutral, such as by using water recycling and producing zero waste. In this case, the existing water footprint would be entirely negated. However, there are some activities where this would be impossible, such as in agriculture where water usage and consumption are essential. Under these circumstances, water usage cannot be brought to zero, but water neutrality can still be achieved by ensuring that the negative socioeconomic and environmental externalities are reduced as far as is possible, with any remaining impacts then fully compensated for by investing in sustainable water usage.”

Homeowner Solutions for Water Scarcity

In the conversation so far, tips for helping households to reduce the amount of water used have been presented as an important part of the solution:


  • Upgrade your toilet – switch to a dual flush toilet which allow different quantities of water to flow or install a cistern displacement device.
  • Install low flow shower heads – these can save up to 60 litres of water per shower.
  • Fit a tap aerator – this small, simple device mixes water with air, reducing the flow but maintaining water pressure.


  • Upgrade to a water-saving tap – taps designed to be water-efficient can use up to 40% less water than a normal tap.


  • Install a water butt – collecting and storing rainwater to use in your garden is a great way to conserve water while keeping your garden well-maintained.

However, although these changes are useful, it is recognised that a wider conversation is needed in the construction industry itself.

Water Scarcity Solutions for Builders and Developers

Although the subject of water scarcity is complex, straddling climate change, water authority investment and infrastructure, as well as usage, the main solution on the table for developers relates to controlling the flow of water entering properties and developments.  

In a recent article by Planning Construction News, the Business Development Director for Water at Cenergist writes, “Control Flow solutions generate large-scale PCC reductions by improving the efficiency of the entire cold and hot water system in the property. They are also available for existing properties, which are retrofitted as part of a turnkey approach and do not require a “rip and replace” of existing infrastructure. With a 10-year lifespan, they can be installed at various points throughout a development onto existing piping and inline, mitigating removal risk. Field deployments have shown daily PCC drops ranging from 30 litres for an individual to 73-litre reductions for a household.”

Why Water Neutrality is Important for Developers

The UK Government has released a Plan for Water which includes actions to meet their statutory water demand target by reducing the use of public water supply 20% per person by 2038. This plan includes encouraging water companies to consider how to rapidly increase smart meter installations for household and non-household customers, as well as delivering a mandatory water efficiency label on water-using products by 2025.

With Water and Local Authorities coming under increasing pressure on this issue, water neutrality requirements are likely to become key when planning drainage for new developments. Given that the South East is one of the areas set to be worse affected by water shortages, focusing on water resilience is more important now than ever.

How We Can Help

Premier Drainage Solutions are specialists in sewer planning, connections and diversions. We are also approved contractors for Thames Water, Anglian Water and Southern Water. If you need advice on drainage solutions for new development planning applications, call us, and we’ll be happy to help.

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