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New Research On the Effects of Drought

Story supplied by LU Press Office

Dr Will Medd of The Centre for Sustainable Water Management Dr Will Medd of The Centre for Sustainable Water Management

Questions raised by this summer's drought are the focus of a new research project led by Lancaster University's Centre for Sustainable Water Management, which hopes to find out exactly how householders and water companies in the south east are experiencing drought and what possibilities exist for future demand management practice for water companies as well as households.

Funded by the ESRC, UKWIR, Defra, OFWAT , the Environment Agency, Anglian Water, Essex and Suffolk Water, Folkestone and Dover Water, Three Valleys Water and South East Water, Drought and Demand will involve a real time qualitative analysis of the 2006 drought in the south east of England.The project aims to reveal the assumptions about current demand, and to discover how far drought might influence approaches towards using and managing water in the future.

Project leader Dr Will Medd explained: "With over 13 million people across the south east of England already subject to hosepipe bans the 2006 drought is already re-opening questions about alternatives to current systems of water management and demand forecasting.

"This project will help us understand the everyday practices of households. People don't just bathe to keep clean, for instance, they bathe for relaxation too. We will be asking specific questions about people's everyday habits and routines to find out which practices people may be likely to change and which they would be reluctant to change.

"The water-using practices that people may be willing to modify could go a long way towards conserving supplies, particularly in the south east where hundreds of thousands of new homes are planned to be built. The occupants of those houses will all need water and will be an extra strain on the existing service.

"We will also be looking at how the water companies assume and structure their responses to demand to see if they are over-estimating demand at particular times to see if there is any wastage there."

The research will be conducted over one year and involves in-depth qualitative interviews with 30 households, water resource management teams, and representatives from key government and regulatory bodies.

Fri 01 September 2006

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