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12 September 2012 | Anna Reynolds
Buyers can make big savings on water bills by taking simple efficiency measures, according to Asda’s energy procurement manager.
Speaking at The Energy Event in Birmingham yesterday, David Olivant explained in 2006 the supermarket had 370 UK sites and was spending £8 million on water. By 2012, site numbers had increased to 605 and spend had risen to £14 million.
“In 2010, we decided to have a closer look into the company’s water usage costs and realised how it was affecting our bottom line,” he said. Analysis found sites in Scotland were paying the most for water, at £8.36 per cubic metre.
He added: “Like most companies, we didn’t know how to tackle this so we outsourced it to a service provider. They investigated our sites for us and helped us to come up with ways to save water as well as finding the cheapest places to buy water.”
“Take control of your water usage yourself, don’t let the water companies do it for you,” he urged. “Every drop is precious not just to life but to your bottom line.”
Asda came up with three ways to become more water efficient. The first was to educate colleagues and employees to not leave taps running and the importance of reporting plumbing problems to be fixed. Second was to boost maintenance. And the third part of the strategy was to take ownership of the water budget, holding individual stores to account for their water use rather than having it amalgamated.
As a result, stores increased their reporting of leakages and dealing with maintenance problems. Asda also worked with construction teams to design systems to increase surface water drainage, such as more drain fittings in car parks, which would cut charges from water companies.
Olivant was critical of water suppliers, saying Asda had to employ somebody to check its water bills before they can be paid because they are so complicated. He called for validation and consolidation where one bill would be compiled from all of the company’s sites.
He also explained how the company had made efforts to engage with water providers by holding regular meetings that has created a two-way dialogue, resulting in water companies coming to Asda directly offering contracts.