Main data sources

  • Data on water consumption and supply for the South West was gathered from 17 different sources, including the five main water companies in the South West: Bournemouth & West Hampshire Water, Bristol Water, Cholderton & District Water, South West Water and Wessex Water.
  • Water abstraction and leakage data was obtained from OFWAT (2001) and Water UK (2003).

Data availability and quality

All water companies were able to provide detailed information. Key statistics, such as the volume of water supplied (million litres per day), were often reported on the water companies' websites and environmental reports. Further details, such as the proportion of water supplied to households and non-households, or the amount lost via leakage, were obtained through personal communications with individuals in the water companies.

Data quality was not a problem. The information provided by the water companies covered the year requested (2001) and was in the appropriate unit (million litres per day). Some water companies were able to supply information on public water consumption by industrial sector.

Bournemouth & West Hampshire Water supplied data for Dorset and West Hampshire. As West Hampshire is not within the South West's geographical boundaries, it was removed from the data set.

The only inconsistency encountered in researching water data was that some of the companies reported data in terms of the volume of water supplied, and others reported on water delivered. Water delivered means the amount of water reaching homes, while water supplied includes water likely to be lost through leakage which must be subtracted from the total. It was agreed to take water delivered as the amount of water consumed in the South West. This inconsistency could be resolved with water leakage data provided by all water companies.

Calculation and proxy measures used

Total water consumption in the region was calculated by adding together the volume of water delivered by all the South West water companies. If necessary one of the following calculations was applied:

Water supplied (S) – Water leakage (L) = Total water delivered (D)


Water delivered (D) + Water leakage (L) = Water supplied (S)

Figures from the water companies covered public water only, and did not include private water abstractions, spray irrigation or fish farming for example. Information about private water was obtained from Water UK (2003), which reported on water abstractions in the South West for all industries and uses.

Non-household water consumption was broken down by industrial sector, based on figures supplied by South West Water and Wessex Water. It was believed that these two companies, being the two largest water suppliers in the South West, would adequately reflect water use by sector in the region.

Data recommendations

  • If possible, it would be useful for water consumption data to be reported as a whole, for the region. This data should also include water abstraction.