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Leaky Loos - a water wasting scandal!

This World Toilet Day, Nathan Richardson of Waterwise reveals the growing problem with leaky loos, and discusses what can be done to address this huge waste of water.

November 2020

No one wants to waste water and certainly no one wants to waste money. But that is exactly what is happening as a result of a growing problem we have with leaky loos. Nathan Richardson from Waterwise reveals all:

What is the problem?

Research by the water industry has found that around 5 to 8% of our toilets are leaking water into the toilet pan . They are typically wasting between 215 and 400 litres of water a day so, with average consumption at 143 litres per person per day, it is like having a couple of relatives moving in to live with you! Getting one fixed can literally halve your water bill if you are on a meter.

The problem was recently highlighted on BBC Costing the Earth “The Great Leaky Loo Scandal” and is particularly prevalent in dual flush toilets due to failures in their internal valve systems. The failures allow water to constantly dribble down the back of the toilet. The scale of the problem nationally is huge with around 400 million litres of estimated to be leaking from UK toilets every day, enough water to supply 2.8 million people - the combined population of Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool and Bristol.

So what is being done about it?

The water industry and water efficiency NGO Waterwise have highlighted the scale of the issue to the bathroom manufacturers to encourage them to design out the problem. They need to come up with design solutions that will help avoid it in new toilets when they are fitted.

But that still leaves all the toilets that are already out there. Data from water meters, particularly smart meters can help by spotting unusual night-time consumption patterns. But not many people have a smart water meter yet. So if you want to make sure you aren’t wasting water we recommend that you regularly check on your toilets at home and at work to see if they are leaking into the pan. Put a piece of tissue placed at the back of the pan between flushes to see if it washes away or add a small amount of food colouring to the cistern between flushes to see whether it shows up in the toilet pan. Around 70% of leaky loos can be fixed by a plumber on a first visit and many water companies will provide a free repair so if you have a leaky loo give them a call.

So this World Toilet Day on 19th November check you haven’t got a leaky loo!

For more information contact

Nathan Richardson is Head of Strategy and Policy at Waterwise.

Follow: @Waterwise

The opinions expressed in this blog are the author's and not necessarily those of the wider Link membership.