Think before you flush - mayor's latest message to Londoners
Wednesday June 29, 2005
In the five years since his ascent to power, few areas of life have gone untouched by the mayor of London. His writ has encompassed transport, policing and health. But yesterday, by way of addressing water conservation, he turned to the tricky matter of how Londoners wash and use the toilet. Unveiling plans for a concerted drive to cut water waste, Ken Livingstone urged Londoners to refrain from flushing the toilet if they have had only "a pee".
In this era of energy austerity, the mayor said responsible citizens will also eschew the wasteful tendency to bathe and will instead take showers, but that even then they will be expected to show moderation. People addicted to power showers will be expected to consider how this appears amid a climate of denial, as will those who brush their teeth or wash vegetables under streams of running water, or run the washing machine half full. The mayor will also seek legal powers to make the capital more energy efficient. On Friday, when he meets the environment secretary, Margaret Beckett, he will ask for legislation to empower him to impose water metering for the first time. He will also seek an immediate hosepipe ban, a ban on "incredibly wasteful" sprinklers and the introduction of a drought order, which would make it easier to impose immediate restrictions.
He said that without a change in practices and attitudes, the only way London could cope with another dry winter would be to introduce standpipes as early as next year.
Mr Livingstone said a third of London's water was flushed down the toilet. "We are asking people to consider - and obviously it is a matter of personal choice - that if all you have done is take a pee, you don't need to flush the toilet every time.
"The quickest and most dramatic impact that we can make is - don't use a sprinkler or hose in the garden, don't use a hose to water your car, and don't flush the lavatory if you have just had a pee. If we can get people doing that, the consumption rate will go down and we will start seeing not just a build-up of our reserves but we will also start to reduce the amounts of energy we consume."