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Save Water Swindon Phase 1 Evaluation (2012)

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This report evaluates phase one of Save Water Swindon (2010-2011) and identifies achievements and faced challenges. The project, the first to take a “whole-town” approach, attempted to raise awareness about the importance of saving water and deliver large-scale water savings. During year one, just under 900 home makeovers were completed, and 900 self-install kits were given out to residents. In total, nearly 6000 water saving devices were distributed and installed, resulting in assumed water savings of nearly 50,000 litres/day by the project. Average savings between makeovers and self-install kits differed substantially, 39 compared to 16 litres/property/day.

1 Executive Summary

Save Water Swindon, a partnership between Thames Water, Waterwise and WWF, was thefirst time that a ‘whole-town’ approach to water efficiency had been taken. Swindon residents were asked to take the ‘20 litre challenge’, pledging to save water through behavioural changes or by installing free water efficiency devices.

During the first year of Save Water Swindon just under 900 home makeovers were completed, and 900 self-install kits were given out to residents of Swindon. In total nearly 6000 water saving devices were distributed and installed, resulting in estimated water savings of nearly 50,000 litres/day.

This evaluation report focuses on the first phase of Save Water Swindon which ran between June 2010 and June 2011, and aims to identify the achievements of this first year, creating a record of the project as well as ensuring that any lessons can be learnt and taken forward into future water efficiency programme planning. Some of the findings include:

  •   Home makeovers were prioritised in the first year of the project. While it appears that the motivations to have a home makeover or receive a self-install kit are similar, self-install kits do not encounter the same barriers as home makeovers.
  •   There were notably more devices on average provided during a home makeover compared to those given away in the self-install kits.
  •   Overall reaction to the devices was positive, with little variation between the devices. Hanging basket gels appear to be the favourite for both home makeover and self-install kit recipients.
  •   The estimated water savings indicate that home makeovers saved over twice the water of self-install kits per household.
  •   Perceptions of the water saved did not differ in the same way as the estimated savings. Overall, 56% and 60% of follow-up survey respondents felt that they had saved water after receiving a self-install kit or having a home makeover respectively.
  •   An encouraging number of follow-up survey respondents reported making positive behavioural changes. The behaviour reportedly changed by the largest number of residents is the length of time spent in the shower, with respondents trying to take shorter showers.Insight provided by project team members raised practical considerations for future water efficiency initiatives, and drawn together with other information gathered for evaluation purposes is presented in the report in order to inform future activities. Overall recommendations are summarised below:
  •   Target a receptive audience: Selecting the correct audience to target is crucial, not only to project delivery but also to the success of evaluation activities.
  •   Address common barriers in recruitment: By addressing barriers in recruitment materials, and arming staff with appropriate responses, barriers that may otherwise have stopped someone from participating can be addressed immediately.
  •   Optimise the feedback loop: Clear lines of communication between the staff on the ground and the project manager are vital to ensure that new knowledge is optimised throughout the project.