The increasingly erratic climate combined with a growing population in the south-east means that households in the region will need to start re-thinking how water is used in their daily lives. A major shift in culture and behaviour is required.

A recent Hubbub survey discovered that three quarters of households are not concerned about the amount of water they use and only a third said they could use less water if needed. Despite many years of awareness raising campaigns basic messages are not hitting home. 68% of people admitted to leaving the tap running whilst cleaning their teeth and 62% did the washing up with the tap running.

This lack of success in changing behaviour combined with dry winters when supplies are normally replenished is starting to hit home. The Environment Agency (EA) recently warned that above-average rainfall is now needed in parts of this region over the winter months to replenish groundwater supplies for 2018.

Somehow household behaviours need to change which is challenging when water conservation is not seen as a problem and even simple messages are not resonating.

Hubbub’s partnership with Affinity Water is taking a totally different approach to the communication challenge. #TapChat is delving into our hidden water habits such as how long do you spend in the shower or how often do you clean sheets? The trial phase of the campaign suggests that people find this questioning of regular daily habits intriguing with over 1 million people engaging on social media.

The increased level of engagement has reduced water use. Water meter measurements were taken for a small cohort of participants discovering that half of them had reduced their water use whilst a fifth had managed to reduce usage by over 20%. Survey results discovered that double the number of people turned the tap off whilst cleaning their teeth and had shorter showers.

The new phase of #Tapchat, will build on the impact of the trial. It will recruit and train a network of advocates to generate change within their local communities by promoting #TapChat conversations. New videos and social media materials will be designed specifically for high water users such as gardeners and young people.

The growing need to save water will be promoted through press and social media directing people back to content helping them to understand the simple changes that can be made. The number of organisations promoting #TapChat messaging will increase demonstrating that the issue needs to be addressed across the region.

It is impossible to control the weather and it is possible that a prolonged spell of heavy rain will avert the immediate problem as has happened previously. But this reliance on rainfall cannot be the long-term solution and we need to persuade households to reduce consumption.

Our hope is that #TapChat will start this conversation encouraging a large number of people to act. Sceptics thinking this is scare-mongering might want to have a quick look at Cape Town, South Africa. Reports suggests that the city could run out of water as early as March Cape Town’s four million residents are being urged to conserve water and use no more than 87 litres a day. Car washing and filling up swimming pools have been banned. In the south-east of England, the problem has been caused by recent years of very low rainfall, coupled with increasing consumption by a growing population. Hubbub believes it is better to start acting now than face restrictive measures.