The paper is based upon a water industry round-table discussion that considered some of the approaches the UK water industry is taking to bring about a sustainable water strategy. The issues addressed and solutions considered, however, are applicable to regions other than the UK. McCarthy explained, “It’s important to educate customers so that they better understand the value of water, as well as their role in wisely using water today to preserve the potential benefits for future generations.”
McCarthy focuses on the water industry’s need to change its customers’ experience of water from one of price to one of value in order to ensure resources are used in a sustainable manner. “The value of water needs to be defined beyond price. Financial, social and environmental factors all need to be considered in order to instigate a change in consumer use of water,” he said.
Achieving this goal is a complex challenge, as McCarthy acknowledges in the paper when he considers issues such as the role of metering, misconceptions about the amount of available water, the difficulties of communicating with a socio-economically diverse customer base, and limited understanding of the services water companies provide.
McCarthy has served the water industry for more than 30 years. As the senior executive of Black & Veatch’s global water business, he has experience in the provision of engineering, consulting and construction services for the sector worldwide.