When you run a tap at work, can you tell with certainty where that water came from? I’m not referring to the pipes or water tank the tap is connected to, but the source water started from before it made its incredible journey to you.
Quite unsurprisingly, most businesses don’t know where they get water from, or why some parts of the UK have soft water, and others have hard water. Let’s take a brief look at the different sources water can come from, and what that means for the user.
These are the most common sources for water in the UK:
And here is more information about them.
Don’t you love rainy days? Well, you should, as it’s where we got most of our water. We rely on rain a lot to keep water levels high enough and meet demand. In recent years, some areas of the UK have had drought warnings in effect in the summer, all down to a lack of rain throughout the year.
Next time it rains, just think of how it’s helping keep water levels topped up.
While it is technically a source, it’s best to think of rivers these days as the original pipes that move water from A to B, rather than a local source. When you think of big cities, a common theme is that they’ll have a river running through them. Centuries ago, this helped build a community that was located near a water supply.
As these towns grew bigger and bigger (take London, for example) people started treating the source as a place to dispose of materials as well. After a while, the focus shifted on getting water sourced from outside city/town limits instead where water would be cleaner and take less effort to treat.
Much of the water from rivers will lead to reservoirs, which grew in popularity after rivers in town and cities were mistreated. There are just over 570 reservoirs in operation in the UK, with some of that most notable including Kielder Reservoir, Rutland Water, and Hawes Water.
Reservoirs provide a higher level of control and allow water suppliers to get a good gauge on demand. A great example of this is in Scotland, where rivers feed into larger lochs, which then feed into reservoirs. Scottish business water supplier Castle Water points out that Scotland has over 300 reservoirs; an extraordinary number for such a small place.
Someone running a business in Glasgow or Edinburgh will be happy to know that high-quality water from Milngavie water treatment works or Glencorse reservoir is better quality than in England, and usually much cheaper to boot.
While Scotland is lucky to get water from reservoirs, as you move further south down the map, most businesses in England are reliant on groundwater as their primary source. Groundwater sources are large pools that sit deep under the ground. Water from rain and rivers slowly falls through soil and rocks before collecting. It is then pumped out to a water treatment works before entering the local network.
With this water passing through rock, in most cases, chalk of limestone, it has a higher level of calcium carbonate. While it is entirely harmless, it’s the reason why so much of England has hard water.
What About the Sea?
With the entire UK surrounded by water, and knowing how we source water, you might be left wondering why we don’t just use the sea for drinking water. Water from the sea is much saltier than water from the sources I’ve just mentioned. To get it ready for use, it has to go through desalination.
The problem with this is that it requires so much more energy to carry out than all the other methods I’ve talked about. You essentially need to build power plants, as opposed to treatment centers, to get water in a fit state, and no one wants to be in the position of wasting energy when simpler alternatives are already in place.
This process is more beneficial in areas like the UAE where demand for water is growing rapidly, in the UK it isn’t as bad just yet.
And How Does all this Affect Your Business?
It helps to know where your water comes from, how hard or soft it is, and if you should have any practices in place to ensure water quality is as good as can be. The next time you have to submit a water meter reading, get in touch with your provider and ask what they are doing to help your business get the best water possible.
Consider the Key Risks
You must have plans to respond effectively to emergencies and other emergencies that can occur during an event. For example, if you suddenly encounter a problem with pipes or water tanks that the faucet is connected to, you need to consider your response to more serious emergencies that may require help from Castle Rock’s emergency services and implementation of their regional emergency plans, not specifically for the event.