London has the best water in the UK

September 24, 2008 at 1:34 am

When most people come to London from outside the UK, the first thing they notice is how hard the water is. That cup of tea just doesn’t taste the same and it takes a second to wash soap off your hands. But, according to a recent report led by the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI), London drinking tap water is the best in the UK.

The annual test looked at up to 40 different areas of water quality, took 168,000 samples from each region, covering all the UK’s counties and overall London came out with 99.98 % pass rate over all of the tests. This comes as great news for water campaigners who are pushing for tap water to be drunk more widely in the capital and all over the UK in places like bars and restaurants.

There are a great number of people and companies (the Houses of Parliament included) who still insist on bottled mineral water. With results like this though, it feels as though we are getting nearer to a stronger public faith in the quality of tap water.

London came out top, but not really by a huge margin. The worse surveyed region was the Northern area but this only dropped to 99.94%, which many might not regard as a worrying figure for the last place. With a national average of 99.96%, a chief inspector of drinking water feels this figure has remained pretty much the same over the last few years and could be improved upon. The more demand for it though, the better the quality will be.

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Washing machine that only needs a cup of water

September 17, 2008 at 2:27 pm

Water water everywhere but not a drop to drink – and all because our washing machine has quaffed the lot. But that might soon be about to change. Academics at Leeds University have pioneered a new method for washing our clothes that uses only 2% of the water and electricity previously needed and it’s not just washing our pants – it dries them too!

The secret lies in dozens of little plastic chips, about half a centimetre in size, which are released into the machines along with the cupful of water and your detergent. The small amount of water then heats up and dissolves the dirt on the clothes, whatever they are from coffee to lipstick. After that, the chips bash against the dissolved dirt, absorb it all in the cycle and get clothes sparkling.

After each wash, the magic chips are removed from the machine but kept and then used up to 100 times after this, which for the average household will approximate to 6 months worth of washing, although that obviously depends on how often you wash your clothes.

There is certainly demand for this technology – called Xeros – as the average household consumes up to 37 pints per day in washing clothes, 13% of the total usage. That’s 800 million pints across the UK per day. The technology has been supported by a number of organisations that help monitor water consumption, including Waterwise. The chips mean you need to buy a new washing machine and then the chips themselves too, but this could all be on the market as early as next year and it could save you hundreds a year so start saving up.

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Tap water tastes good and is increasingly available

September 11, 2008 at 1:57 am

It is becoming easier and easier to opt for tap water instead of bottled water, and a new survey by Which? has shown tap water rivals bottled water as far as taste is concerned.

In its August edition, consumer watchdog Which? published the results of an online survey which showed that 50% of those surveyed could not taste the difference between tap and bottled water. Nearly a fifth of the 3,039 online respondents said they actually preferred the taste of tap water.

Winning the taste test adds to tap water’s very strong appeal over bottled water for its minimal environmental impact and lower cost per litre. Tap water costs 0.22 pence, making it 141 times cheaper than the bestselling mineral water Evian, which costs 31 pence per litre in the supermarket, and more on the high street.

A number of new initiatives reflect the growing popularity of tap water for these reasons of taste, cost and environmental impact. They include Drink Tap, the August campaign of Green Thing, a website running monthly initiatives to help people develop more environmentally-friendly habits. People can find ideas on the site that they may not have thought of yet to help them substitute tap water for bottled.

Another initiative in the pipeline is a pilot scheme which will place free tap water vending machines in ten London stations. People will be able to fill up water bottles from the machines as they pass through.

Finally, in restaurants and bars, the Evening Standard’s Water on Tap campaign aims to end the stigma of asking for tap water with your meal. Participating establishments can sign up online, promising to offer tap water on their menu alongside bottled mineral or sparkling water.

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1000 gallons of water a day for UK households

September 3, 2008 at 2:11 am

Water is costing us a fortune now just like gas and electricity so it might then come as a bit of a shock to some of us when we hear that, according to new figures backed by research by the environmental charity WWF, the average UK household uses up to 1000 gallons of water in only one day.

The survey examined a number of aspects of recent water consumption and has revealed some rather alarming results. Water is not only used for drinking and cleaning but also for helping crops to grow. It’s this water that is making countries such as the UK consume so many gallons per day.

When water is used to help the growth of crops for both food and textiles, and when the UK imports those goods onto its shores, the water the UK is then consuming is called ‘Virtual Water’. Each average household in the UK might only use around 30 gallons of water a day for drinking, washing and cleaning but when you add on the hundreds of gallons it takes from poorer and often much drier countries in the form of this virtual water, it reaches the thousands.

What the researchers at WWF are most concerned about is the water taken from the importing of goods from some of the world’s poorest regions, such as northern Africa and India and Pakistan. These countries are draining their lakes and rivers to feed the crops that will end up as food on the shelves and as textiles for people hundreds of miles away in countries such as the UK. It seems it’s not just carbon that has a ‘footprint’ but water now too.

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