Save Water Swindon Baseline Summary Report (2010)

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This report summarises the results of a baseline survey undertaken prior to the water efficiency project Save Water Swindon. The project aimed to raise awareness about the importance of saving water and deliver large-scale water savings. This survey measures behaviours and attitudes prior to the start of the project, establishing a baseline against which later surveys were benchmarked. 1286 individuals responded to the baseline survey, representing a 46% response rate. Results indicate that the majority of people surveyed do try to save water. Saving water as well as money, and concern about the environment were the key motivators for water efficiency activities.

Headlines

The majority of respondents do not know, or severely underestimate, how much water they consume on a daily basis.

85% of respondents use the shower, with the average time spent under the shower just under 7 minutes.

Over half of respondents own a water butt.

The vast majority do not water their lawns at all, and when watering plants andflowers use a watering can.

Avoiding waste, helping the environment and saving money are the top three reasons given for trying to save water.

Those people who do not try to save water think that they only use the water they need.

Summary

The survey sent out to Swindon residents achieved a good response rate, highlighting the benefits of following best practice when undertaking a postal survey.

Overall, the responses given throughout the survey indicate that the majority of people surveyed do try to save water. Most take showers, when washing clothes use a full load, and water plants and flowers using a watering can – to mention only a few of the reported behaviours. Reducing the waste of water as well as money, and concern about environmental impacts are the most common motivators for saving water.

Although water saving behaviours are widely reported, it is apparent that people are not clear about the water they use. Many do not know where their drinking water comes from, while the majority do not know or underestimate their personal water consumption. Whendirectly questioned about the local availability of water or the impact of households’ wateruse on the environment, around half of respondents do not answer one way or the other. There appears to be a particular lack of clarity around links between household water consumption and the environment. Although two thirds of respondents who do try to save water highlighted the environment as one of their reasons for doing so, when all respondents were asked later in the survey if they agreed or disagreed that household water use damaged the environment, a smaller number agreed. Furthermore, specific environmental reasons for saving water such as helping wildlife and local water resources or preventing climate change were selected far less frequently than the generic option ‘to help the environment’. It is possible that while people do have an awareness that their water use impacts upon the environment, they do not understand exactly how.