Blog by Mike Keil, Head of Policy and Research, Consumer Council for Water

It seems like everyone in the water industry is talking about innovation at the moment – and we are no exception!

Our Board recently held its meeting in public at Newmarket.  Innovation was top of our agenda so it was an ideal location. The town has become Anglian Water’s centre of innovation, with a particular focus on water efficiency.

It’s also home to the company’s ‘Smarter Drop’ campaign which hopes to reduce water usage to 80 litres per person, per day – a laudable aim in one of the driest regions of the country.

There are some impressive things going on in and around Newmarket and we were whisked around a selection of them. There was no shortage of eye-catching gadgets and technology but for me the most impressive thing was how Anglian is engaging and motivating real people.

Two things in particular stood out to me. The first was the familywho came along to share their experiences of saving water. Their passion and enthusiasm was apparent to all of us who chatted with them. This really is the key to delivering a step change

in water efficiency: win hearts and minds then people will willingly change their behaviour.  So, is this innovation? Clearly winning hearts and minds is not a new concept.  However, innovation is required to reach out and connect with people in new andimaginative ways.

This takes me neatly to my second stand out thing from the day – the Water Magician. I was very cynical that this was a gimmick, but I was won over by the clever card trick routine that took people through a story of how much water a

The Smarter Drop magic show wows the crowds

family uses and how savings can easily be made. There was also a neat appearance from nowhere of £80 that grabbed my attention (I didn’t get to take it way unfortunately, but I did get a gold chocolate coin).

It’s this kind of unexpected method of communication that can win people over. It grabs the attention, makes things fun and lands a serious point. I’d say that this was genuinely innovative. All of us involved in engagement on water efficiency need to try different things and take some risks in order to get our messages across. Given the long-term challenge of water scarcity we can’t afford not to innovate.

Posted by Anglian Water