Waterwise on the Farm (Version 2)

Step 1: Identify how much water you are using and how much it costs

Identify all your sources of water on the farm

Possible water sources include:

  • mains water supplied by your water supply company;
  • water abstracted from rivers, streams, canals, springs or boreholes;
  • on-farm ponds or other winter-stored water;
  • water drunk by animals from non-metered sources (for example, from puddles or by eating wet grass);
  • re-used water, such as plate cooling water or harvested rainwater.

Use Form 1 (page 27) to record the amount and cost of the water that you use each year.

If you expect water consumption from unrecorded sources such as eating wet grass to be high, then you can use a percentage of the theoretical daily consumption data in Table 2 (page 30) to calculate this.

If you collect or recycle any water, such as rainwater or plate cooling water, then you will need to include this.

The section on alternative sources of water in Chapter 3 (page 17) will help you calculate how much rainwater you can collect.

Once you have a record of the water you use, you can use this to help you understand any seasonal changes in your water-use patterns, and it will also enable you to watch out for unexpected changes. Plotting the water you use on a graph may help you to do this.

Top tip: meter reading

Set up a routine for monitoring how much water you use. Regularly read and record every water meter on the farm. If possible, you should do this at least once a month. This will alert you to any changes in the amount of water you use and could indicate a problem such as a leaking pipe or a faulty ballcock in a water trough. It may also alert you to problems with your pipes, such as blockages, that may be holding back production.

Calculate the cost of the water you use

Your water costs you more than just the amount printed on the bill from your local water company or the Environment Agency, so do not forget the hidden costs. Costs include:

  • mains water and standing charge (from your water company);
  • abstraction licence charge (from the Environment Agency);
  • recycled water (pumping, storage and capital);
  • dirty water (storage, treatment, disposal and capital);
  • staff time (operational and maintenance).

Understanding the true cost of water is crucial in managing the water you use. Often, costs are unknown and you may make the mistake of thinking they are too low to be of concern. When you fill in Form 1 (page 27), you may be surprised by just how much you are spending on water each year.

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