Milton Keynes is in one of the driest parts of the country and water availability is likely to come under increasing pressure in the future due to climate change and population growth. It is therefore really important to manage water resources sustainably to support the continued growth of the city.
HR Wallingford is working closely with Anglian Water, BT and the OU on four complementary activities looking at influencing how much water the citizens of Milton Keynes use:
- Water Monitor – a website that provides households with information on their water use as well as hints and tips on how to use less water, to save money and benefit the environment. It is being trialled by households in Broughton. See Broughton gets access to regular meter data
- Garden Monitor – an app that tells you when you should water your garden, using local weather data, weather forecasting and soil moisture data. See Taking the guesswork out of garden watering
- School kits – Anglian Water is providing meters, wall mounted readers and lesson plans to help school children in Milton Keynes learn about how they can reduce the amount of water they use and why this is important. See MK Schools are getting water smart
- MK Water Strategy – a short, easy to understand report that explains what needs to be done to ensure that Milton Keynes can grow in a way that does not put greater pressure on local water resources. Draft MK Water Strategy Now Available
Broughton gets access to regular meter data
Over one hundred households in the Broughton area of Milton Keynes are taking part in the Water Monitor trial. The trial will improve our understanding of what helps people to save water, to support a sustainable Milton Keynes.
Anglian Water is collecting weekly water meter readings for each house on the trial.
Registered households can log onto the website to see how much water they are using and how this compares to others on the trial and Anglian Water customers as a whole. Over time they will be able to see whether they have been able to reduce their water usage and their water bill, while also doing their bit for the environment and their community.
Taking the guesswork out of garden watering
We have developed an app called Garden Monitor, which forecasts the soil moisture in your garden over the coming 10 days and suggests when you should water your plants.
The app uses data from garden sensors, local weather stations and weather forecasts. In order to use this app, you need to have at least one soil moisture sensor in your garden that can be read by your WiFi. You can also use your own weather station data.
The model used by the app learns over time how to forecast soil moisture loss from individual gardens more accurately by comparing its own forecasts with recorded data. Early results are very promising and beta testing is ongoing in the UK and overseas. Once this has been completed, the app will be available to citizens in Milton Keynes to trial over the summer.
Find out more by visiting http://www.mksmart.org/gardenmonitor/
MK schools are getting water smart
Several schools in Milton Keynes have signed up to become part of a trial to investigate ways to save water in their school. Anglian Water has provided the schools with new water meters linked to a wall mounted display. This makes it easier for students to monitor detailed water use within their school and to find how much water is used by different activities, such as washing hands or flushing a toilet.
Students will take part in a whole range of activities aimed to help them understand how to save water and why this is important. They will discover how much water their school typically uses in a year and then begin a period of closely monitoring their water use, which will allow them to identify leaks and bad practices. They will then be tasked with initiating water-saving measures and monitoring their success over a period of time. We will find out later this year how they have got on.
Draft MK Water Strategy Now Available
We’re ready to share our first draft of the MK Water Strategy. It can be downloaded here.
The draft document sets out the principles of sustainable water use and the measures and approaches that will be needed to ensure that Milton Keynes grows as a smart city. It will be updated at the end of 2016 to reflect the findings from the Water Monitor and Garden Monitor trials and the schools’ activities carried out as part of this work package.