How turning off a tap can help save the lakes and rivers of Hampshire

Testwood Lakes - photo by Peter Hutchings

Testwood Lakes - photo by Peter Hutchings - Credit: Archant

As you turn on the tap each day to fill the kettle or settle in for a long soak in the bath, how often do you question where our water comes from? The Wildlife Trust’s Kizzie Henderson tells how, by turning off the tap, you can save Hampshire’s lakes and rivers

In Hampshire, the majority of our drinking water is extracted from the River Itchen and the River Test, which thousands of different species of aquatic plants, fish and mammals rely on for their survival. Rain water is absorbed into the rocks beneath us, which is then filtered and released into our rivers. Water is then removed from these rivers, treated to make sure it is safe to drink and then pumped into our homes.

Rivers are crucial in the survival of many species but also provide the healthy drinking water that is essential to protect public health. Since the start of the 20th century, there has been a considerable decline in the quality and quantity of our rivers. An increase in population and changes in people’s habits has seen an increase in the amount of water that is needed. Our water levels are now much lower, which puts a threat on our wildlife habitats.

The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust is working with partners such as Natural England, the Environment Agency and Southern Water to reduce water abstraction and to make rivers more resilient to changing water levels; but everyone can do their bit to save water. Martin De Retuerto, Head of Conservation at the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Trust emphasises the importance of water efficiency: “by saving water we can reduce the amount that we need, and therefore increase the amount that can be retained in our rivers. By saving water all year round, we can ensure that water supplies at purpose built facilities such as Testwood Lakes, can be reserved at those periods of greatest demand.”

Testwood Lakes at Totton is one site where reservoirs store water abstracted from Hampshire’s chalk rivers. Southern Water created the site in 2002 and in 2004, a partnership was formed with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, which has managed the site ever since.

Testwood Lakes was set up as a nature reserve for the local community to access and to provide a haven for wildlife. Covering an area of 130 acres, it is home to a permanent exhibition on water saving, two conservation lakes popular with a variety of wetland and wildfowl, and an education centre for visiting schools and community groups. It provides space for the public as well as sensitive areas such as refuge zones for birds that can be viewed from two of the hides on site. Among the 100s of species to spot at the Lakes are dragonflies, demoiselles and lapwing.

Meyrick Gough, Southern Water’s Water Strategy Manager, explained the significance of Testwood Lakes as a water resource for Hampshire: “Testwood Lakes is more than just a water storage facility. Having a site that can be accessed by our customers, where they can see first-hand the link between water in the environment and what comes out of their taps helps to reinforce the messages about the importance of using water wisely. Every drop that is saved means that less needs to be taken from rivers and underground sources.”

For tips on how to save water in your own home visit


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