In 2009 ech2o partnered with Thames Water and Aqualogic as part of Thames Water’s Schools Water Makeover which consisted of an audit, retrofit and education programme for 22 primary and 10 secondary schools in the Thames Water area. The project aims were to produce a measurable reduction in water consumption whilst engaging and educating the school’s pupils about the need for water conservation, and to generate case studies that can be used to encourage other schools to use water wisely. The project’s findings have helped Thames Water to better understand water use, and potential water savings, in schools.

The schools were logged to measure current water use and this, combined with historical bills data, was used to rate each school against DFES benchmark tables. After an assembly about the project by ech2o, and an audit of the school by a group of pupils, Aqualogic technicians visited the school to undertake a professional audit and to fit various water-saving technologies including urinal controls, dual-flush mechanisms and percussion taps. By logging the schools throughout the process the effect of both behavioural changes and different technical solutions were identified and quantified.

ech2o water experts ran various water awareness workshops and delivered 33 “Be Water Aware” assemblies to 7,446 pupils and 264 teachers, explaining why it is important to save water and the link between water and CO2 emissions. We urged pupils to be more water aware and challenged them to save at least 10 litres of water a day.ech2o worked with 557 pupils in 21 of the schools to carry out a water audit and to identify low-cost and zero-cost water efficiency measures that could be implemented to reduce their water consumption, as well as encouraging pupils to contribute other ideas toward reducing their school’s water footprint. We acted as environmental consultants on two short films and demonstrated how to fit a save-a-flush bag to 2539 pupils in 31 schools.

In twelve of the schools ech2o worked with the pupils to collect data about their use of water at home and to identify behavioural changes to reduce their family’s water footprint. Each pupil involved in this part of the project received a home pack which included a shower timer, a save-a-flush bag (to reduce WC flushing volumes by 1 litre), a measuring tool (to record flow rates from taps and showers), stickers about saving water, and a questionnaire (to fill out at home) which details behavioural use of water. By working with families in this way, valuable data is collected, the wider community becomes involved, and analysis of the data enablesech2o to draw conclusions about behaviour around water in homes. Analysis of the data was shared with the participating schools.

The educational part of the Water Makeover links into key stages 1, 2, 3 and 4 across maths, science geography and citizenship. ech2o worked with pupils from ages 5 to 18, and at the end of the project had achieved a more sustainable water culture amongst the staff, pupils and their families in the participating schools. This greater water-awareness and the corresponding step change in behaviour around the use of water both at school and at home, has the potential to save as much as 27,000m3of water a year.

Thames Water’s Schools Water Makeover