Covid-19 has increased the value we place on water for a third of people in the East of England, finds WaterAid this World Water Day

Girls happy to be washing their hands at their school's facilities provided by WaterAid, Madagascar. Credit: WaterAid/ Ernest Randriarimalala

A third of people (31%) in the East of England say the focus on hygiene during the pandemic has increased the value they place on water, with almost three in four (72%) now saying they appreciate having clean water at home, finds WaterAid. Over half (54%) are taking steps to reduce the amount of water they use, beating the UK national average of 49% with their water-saving ways.

Meanwhile, around one in five (18%) in the region admit to leaving the tap running while brushing their teeth, which could waste up to 23 million litres of water every single day – that’s enough to fill nine Olympic-sized swimming pools.

International charity WaterAid commissioned the survey to mark World Water Day today (22 March), which this year focuses on the value of water, asking 2,000 people across the UK about their perceptions of their water supply, whether Covid-19 has increased appreciation for the humble tap, and who is doing the most to conserve this precious resource.

Across the UK, more than half (56%) of female respondents are aware about how much water they use and take steps to reduce it, while over two in five (42%) male respondents said the same.  

Nearly a third of people (31%) in the East of England save water by not flushing the loo every time. Nationally, older respondents seem a bit more relaxed about letting things ‘mellow if they’re yellow’ with over two in five (43%) over 55s trying to save water this way, while only one in seven young people aged 16 to 24 said the same.  

Over half of adults in the East of England say they ensure their appliances like dishwashers and washing machines are water-efficient and 35% collect rainwater to use in their garden.

However, a fifth people in the region (22%) do not think about the amount of water they use. Just one in six (17%) spend the recommended time of just four minutes in the shower, while nearly half (40%) spend between five and 10 minutes. Only one in seven (14%) shower longer than 10 minutes, using at least 120 litres of water each every time.

Peter Simpson, CEO, Anglian Water, and member of WaterAid’s Board of Trustees said: “Sometimes it can be easy for us to take clean water for granted when we have it on tap, but the challenges of the past year have helped us to realise its importance. We’ve been working on the frontline to keep our supplies going during the pandemic, to help people in the East of England stay safe and healthy, wash their hands, keep homes and hospitals clean and protect themselves against the spread of coronavirus.  

“No matter where you live, no one should have to sacrifice their health or safety just for this basic human right, yet 785 million people around the world do not have clean water at home. That’s why Anglian Water is committed to supporting WaterAid’s work, specifically in Nepal, and around the world to reach communities who need it most.”  

Tim Wainwright, WaterAid’s Chief Executive, said: “Those of us who can turn on the tap each and every day to get clean, safe water may not often stop to think about the enormous value that this service brings to our lives. Keeping us healthy, clean, enabling us to go to school and work, boosting our economy and enabling us to live in greater harmony with the wider environment – the benefits are life-changing.

“Over the last year with the threat of Covid-19 hanging over us all, the simple act of washing our hands with soap and water has brought home to many of us, how hard life is for the one in 10 people around the world who do not have clean water. Now we face the even greater challenge of battling climate change, which is making life even more difficult for those who don't know from one day to the next where they will find water. The UK water industry not only ensures that those of us in in the UK have a reliable, sustainable source of safe water; it also supports WaterAid to bring the same to millions of people around the world.”

UN World Water Day celebrates water and raises awareness of the global water crisis, and on the goal of achieving water and sanitation for all by 2030. Find out more at  

Image: Girls happy to be washing their hands at their school's facilities provided by WaterAid, Madagascar.
Credit:    WaterAid/ Ernest Randriarimalala