Looking after our natural environment is really important to us. Here's what we're doing to protect it for future generations:
We often think of ourselves as guardian of the environment; in all our day-to-day operations we put a high priority on its protection and conservation.
As significant landowners, we look after Sites of Special Scientific Interest, the National Nature Reserve Lullington Heath, in East Sussex, two nature reserves, Arlington Reservoir and Ardingly Reservoir and numerous Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
A healthy, vibrant environment where nature can flourish is essential to securing and safeguarding our valuable water resources. Keeping water clean and fresh at source means we have to do less in the water treatment process to make it safe to drink and use.
We often carry out work in partnership with organisations like Natural England and wildlife trusts.
Before any major water supply scheme begins, specialist ecologists carry out an environmental assessment to ensure the environment is protected at every stage.
Where there is an impact on the environment, we carry out restoration work or create new habitats to encourage native species back to the affected area and often work with archaeologists to protect our ancient heritage.
Sensitive management of these sites is a priority, allowing an abundance of fauna and flora to thrive, and we have won a host of awards in recognition of our commitment to the environment:
- Green Apple Awards – The Green Organisation honoured us with a gold award for our work to protect toads at our Offham Water Treatment Works, near Lewes, and to stop them trying to cross the busy A275. We previously received a bronze award for our work to protect bats at Wichling Pumping Station, and another for a 'living' willow sculpture created by Conservation Ranger Richard Dyer on former wasteland in Robertsbridge, East Sussex, as an environmental gift to the community.
- We work with others to achieve our environmental goals, including the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, Natural England, The Sussex and Hampshire Wildlife Trusts and the Kent Wildlife Trust, and we are a founder member of the Sussex Otters & Rivers Partnership, set up in 2000.
Tackling leaks and bursts
Tackling leaks is a priority for us and we are out and about 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year looking for and repairing leaks on our network.
We have specialist equipment and are investing in new ways to find leaks and bursts quickly.
Our regulator, Ofwat, has set stringent targets for leakage and we continue to meet those.
This target is set at the Economic Level of Leakage – this is the level at which it becomes more expensive to find and repair tiny weeps and seeps, than it does to develop and build new water resources.
An estimated one third of leaks occur in the underground supply pipes which connect to customers’ properties. This means they are often beyond our control.
To help with this problem we offer a Leak Repair Scheme and our universal Customer Metering Programme also helps identify leaks for customers.
Our Customer Metering Programme
South East Water actively promotes water meters as the fairest method of charging as customers only pay for what they use.
In 2007, our supply area was declared as an area of “serious” water stress by the Environment Agency. As a result, we started our Customer Metering Programme.
At the beginning, just 37%of our customers paid metered charges. By 2020 that figure should be 90 per cent.
Research shows customers with a water meter use, on average 15% less water than those who don’t.
Promoting water efficiency to our customers
South East Water runs a water efficiency campaign as part of its 25-year Water Resources Management Plan. We continue to press for new legislation to require water efficiency devices to be installed as standard in new and renovated homes under building regulations.
Other activities include working with schools, businesses, communities and individuals to promote everyday water saving activities and advice such as:
- Supplying free water saving devices for toilet cisterns
- Promoting water butts to collect rain water
- Offering specialist garden advice
- Offering water audits for schools and businesses
- Online metering for large water users
How you can help us
The South East of England is one of the driest regions in the UK so it’s important we all work together to make the best use of our limited water resources. We want to lead the way by tackling leaks, promoting metering and working with customers to be water efficient in homes, gardens and businesses.