UK 2012 Water Efficiency Award Winners Announced

The Environment Agency and Waterwise urged businesses to reduce their water usage, saying UK businesses could save more than £3.5 billion a year by using water efficiency measures.

The Environment Agency and Waterwise announced the 2012 winners of their Water Efficiency Awards. They were chosen for demonstrating creative but practical ways for reducing water consumption.

The winner in the farming and horticulture sector is Lowaters Nursery in Southampton, which built a reservoir of 7 million liters' capacity and uses rainwater capture and a clean water storage and pumping system to avoid relying on the public water system. The nursery has saved at least £20,000 a year, according to the two organizations.

Save Water Swindon won the Environment Agency's Chairman's Award. Started in 2010, the project is a partnership of Thames Water, Waterwise, and the World Wildlife Fund to reduce water use in Swindon, which is in a region the Environment Agency has classified as "seriously water stressed" (meaning all available water sources already are in use and wildlife is under increasing pressure). The town gets its water from two rivers, the Kennet and the Thames. Save Water Swindon aims to reduce water consumption in the town by 1 million liters per day by 2014 and is on course to achieve that goal, having cut overall use by more than 560,000 liter per day.

Winning in the Campaigns & Education Category was a project featuring Gabi the camel, described as the UK's first on-air animated character dedicated to educating children about water efficiency. GabiH2O, in partnership with Nickelodeon UK and sponsored by United Utilities and Southern Water, features a rapping camel educating children on the need to save water.

A runner-up in the Built Environment category is Tap into Savings, a water and energy saving program in Essex that is saving more than 80,000 liters per day. More than 3,000 homes have been fitted with water-saving devices such as shower flow regulators and dual-flush mechanisms, saving about 15 percent per household.

"The recent drought has brought the need for water efficiency into sharp focus," said Lord Chris Smith, chairman of the Environment Agency. "We want to see all businesses reducing their water usage and using this to deliver environmental and financial benefits. What can be achieved is highlighted by this year's winners -– all of whom should be praised for not only saving water, but also putting themselves a step ahead of their competitors, saving money, and preparing for the future."

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