On standby: almost a million paddling pools to cool down the South

Last reviewed:
15 August 2016
Thames Water ready to put an extra 450 million litres of water a day into its network during heatwave.

Water consumption in the business centre of London falls but increases in the Cotswolds as people make their escape.

As the temperature cranks up outside, inside an operational control room in Berkshire, Thames Water specialists have already worked out how much extra water Londoners and people across the south east will need to see them through the mini-heatwave experts predict will peak in the South-East this Tuesday. 

The UK’s largest water and wastewater company expects to put an extra 450 million litres of water a day into London and the Thames Valley’s pipes during the heatwave, the equivalent to 900,000 paddling pools. If placed side by side, this is enough paddling pools to stretch from London to Madrid.
This increase in water consumption on a hot day is usually around 14% in London, but in the Thames Valley, where 150 million extra litres will enter the pipes, this shoots up to 27% as Londoners desert the city and holiday makers head for the Cotswolds.
Mark Jenner, head of operations systems at Thames Water said: “We have a team of specialists who weather-watch throughout the year and use their years of experience to estimate how much water our customers will use during a hot spell.
“In some places demand for water in the evening nearly triples, so it’s up to us to do the maths, put more water through our treatment works and get that extra water into supply.”
He added: “I'm pleased to say we don’t expect to need to introduce water restrictions this summer, but it only takes one or more winters with low levels of rainfall, followed by a hot, dry summer, to create a risk of shortages. So looking ahead, while we are working hard to sort out pipe leaks and help our customers be more water efficient, we also need to develop new sources of water as climate change and increases in population make shortages more likely.”
Over the course of a normal day, demand for water surges first thing in the morning as people wake up and take showers, and again in the evening as they return home. During a heatwave the evening water demand can be up to three times the daily average rate as paddling pools are filled up and customers cool off with an extra shower and follow advice to keep hydrated.
The specialist team of engineers work 24-hours a day to continuously assess weather patterns, using an intelligent modelling system to predict the demand for water and tweak the amount being treated from reservoirs and put into the region’s pipes.
Notes to editors:

• Thames Water is not expecting to need to introduce water restrictions this summer.  Groundwater levels remain above average and water levels at Thames Water’s reservoirs remain high.

• Thames Water has met its leakage target (set annually by water regulator Ofwat), ten years in row. 

• On an average day Thames Water puts 2,100 megalitres (a megalitre is a million litres) into London’s water supply, and 550 megalitres into the Thames Valley. On hot days, it puts in around 2,400 megalitres into the capital, and 700 megalitres to the rest of its region.

• Over the period of a week in many areas of Thames Water demand for water will increase by 25% during a heatwave

• Paddling pool dimensions used: 500 litre capacity and 1.5 in length

• The distance between London and Madrid is 785 miles. If laid end to end, the paddling pools (each 1.5metres long) would stretch for 838 miles.

For more information please contact Sarah Sharpe in the Thames Water press office on 0774 764 7188.
Water saving tips:

1. Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth

A running tap can use six litres of water per minute. By turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, a family of four could save up to £36 on metered water bills, as well as up to 17,520 litres of water per year. 

2. Take shorter showers

On average a shower uses 10 litres of water per minute. Reducing your shower time by just one minute could save a family of four up to £45 on metered water bills, up to £52 on energy bills and as much as 11,648 litres of water per year. 

3. Fix leaks and drips

A single leaky loo can waste up to 400 litres of water per day – the equivalent of five full bathtubs - costing up to £300 per year for metered customers. A dripping tap can also waste more than 60 litres of water per week 

4. Reduce your water use in the garden

Less watering doesn't have to mean less gardening. Choose plants that don't mind going without a drink for a while. Your garden centre will be able to recommend plants that need less water. You can also use a water butt to collect rainwater from your roof to use in the garden or recycle washing-up water.

5. Don't leave the tap running to clean dishes or vegetables

A running tap uses six litres of water per minute. By filling a washing-up bowl instead of running the tap you can reduce the amount of water you use.